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Hobbyists and Amateurs

  • By: Robert A. Stebbins
  • In: Encyclopedia of Consumer Culture
  • Edited by: Dale Southerton
  • Subject:Sociology of Consumption, Consumer Psychology, Consumer Culture

Hobbyists and amateurs distinguish themselves from many other kinds of participants in leisure in that the first two systematically pursue, typically over a period of many years, a complex, specialized, highly fulfilling free-time activity. Such leisure engenders acquisition of substantial skill, knowledge, or experience, usually a combination of these. Amateurs enjoy a special relationship with professionals in the same activity and with an interested public. Meanwhile, hobbyists are distinguished from amateurs primarily by lack of a professional counterpart. Hobbyists may also have commercial equivalents and often have small publics who are interested in what they achieve.

Sometimes called enthusiasms, amateurism and hobbyism are largely Western pastimes. They are classified as “serious leisure,” which is frequently compared with “casual leisure”: the immediately, intrinsically rewarding, relatively short-lived, pleasurable ...

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