Spraying Beta: Information Behavior in the Small World of Rock Climbing

Observations at an indoor rock climbing gym reveal Elfreda Chatman’s use of the small world concept in action. The behaviors of the “legitimized others,” (Chatman, 1999) or what I will call the core community of climbers can be analyzed through the four concepts of Chatman’s Theory of Normative Behavior: Social Norms, Worldview, Social Types, and Information Behavior (Burnett, Besant, & Chatman, 2001). I will discuss each concept in turn, and model a climber’s information behavior as it pertains to climbing a selected route. I will also be drawing on sociological research into subculture, which shares many of the characteristics of Chatman’s small world.