Publication Details

Warren, A. & Gibson, C. (2017). Soulful and Precarious: The Working Experiences of Surfboard Makers. In D. Z. Hough-Snee & A. S. Eastman (Eds.), The Critical Surf Studies Reader (pp. 342-364). Durham, United States: Duke University Press.


Surfboard manufacturing is an essential part of the multibillion-dollar global surf industry. Not only do surfboard manufacturers supply consumers with the material means necessary for surfing, they provide subcultural capital to retailers and multinational surf brands that generate profit from surf-styled garments and apparel. Initially drawing from centuries-old Hawaiian precedents, surfboard manufacturing only developed as a capitalist industry in the late 1950s. Fo11owing convergence with Hollywood-inspired popular culture (film, television, and music) surfing became a fashionable leisure activity. A newfound popularity among Westerners produced a mass market for surfboard producers. Surfboard making, previously a do-it-yourself (D IY) hobbyist activity concentrated in backyard toolsheds, moved into factories and became full-time waged employment. Surfers found a way to sustain a living around pleasure.