Chapter

The Sanctuary of the Forest

Matthew Desmond

in On the Fireline

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print October 2007 | ISBN: 9780226144085
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226144078 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226144078.003.0003
The Sanctuary of the Forest

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What compels people to accept the burdens of firefighting? Why do they choose to take part in such a demanding and dangerous enterprise? This chapter demonstrates that the answers are to be found in the least likely place: downtime. Many sociologists have suggested that risk takers understand downtime as meaningless and dull. It is argued that, at Elk River, periods of waiting are saturated with meaning. Far from being “killed time” or “wasted time,” downtime is primetime. Elk River offers something more alluring than rushes or riches—something having to do with their country-masculine habitus.

Keywords: firefighters; wildland firefighting; Elk River; fire station; downtime; country-masculine habitus

Chapter.  14275 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Occupations, Professions, and Work

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