Leisure and Feminist Theory


Betsy Wearing

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    I would like to thank Chris Rojek for inviting me to write this book and for the light and encouraging hand he has kept on the helm during its production. His own openness to ideas which push the thinking further in the area of leisure has encouraged me to take some risks in my own writing. He may not agree with all of my feminist thinking, but he has allowed me the latitude to pursue my own ideas anyway.

    Paul McCrohan and Kath Knowles acted as enthusiastic library researchers for the early chapters of the book as did Christine Wearing for later chapters. Stephen Wearing also gathered some of the material and we continued, as we have done for a number of years, to bounce around ideas which are new to both of us.

    Ross Saunders has been an ever-helpful friend with computing and formatting, saving me many hours of tedious work.

    My children, grandchildren, friends and colleagues have been tolerant of my lack of sociability at times when the book took over. My husband, Leslie, has at all times supported me through my academic endeavours and wonders now when I am really going to retire.


    Much sociological analysis of contemporary social systems founded on a capitalist economy, industrial and post-industrial production, urban dwelling and nation states has focused on the construction of the self through the disciplinary production-ethic (see Bell, 1978; Berman, 1983; Campbell, 1987; Featherstone, 1991). Such an ethic concentrates on discipline, control, work, ‘clock time’, deferred gratification, and calculative rationality and the related values commonly understood as the Protestant Ethic. More recently the pursuit of selfhood in such a society has been theorized as equally dependent on the complementary consumption-centred, hedonistic ethic that encourages the pursuit of selfhood through self-expression, leisure, consumer goods and pleasure (Moorhouse, 1983, 1989; Campbell, 1987). Both ethics, it appears, are necessary dynamics in the processes of contemporary capitalism and both contribute to the construction of the self. Leisure theory which surfaced in the arena of sociological analysis in the early 1970s, with a downturn in the productive sphere and an increase in non-work time, remained initially embedded in work-related frameworks but has progressively moved towards the sphere of consumption and pleasure where the multiplicity of postmodern selves are at play (see Rojek, 1985, 1989, 1993a, 1995).

    Feminist analyses have critiqued the former excessive emphasis on the productive sphere and the work ethic as the basis of identity construction as a masculine perspective which ignores the everyday experiences of women. Women, they say, depend more heavily on the non-productive sphere of consumption and leisure as a source of some autonomy and sense of individual identity (Wearing, 1990a). Feminist leisure theorists began to shift the focus towards theories of leisure which recognized women's perspectives including unpaid labour, the domestic sphere, consumption and a more diffuse concept of the work/leisure dichotomy. The emergence of these feminist theories coincided with the shift in sociology generally away from work-centred models as convincing explanations for contemporary society. This book examines both feminist critiques of male-orientated leisure theories and the use that feminists have made of particular elements of these theories. There are as many feminist theoretical perspectives concerning leisure as there are sociological and feminist perspectives. Feminist theory here refers to those forms of analysis which seek to increase understanding of women's experiences in patriarchal, capitalist, modern and postmodern, Western and developing societies with a view to increasing the quality of life of both women and men. A recurring theme throughout the book is the relationship between the self or selves and leisure, where selves refer to both femininities and masculinities.

    A second connecting theme which emerges as the book proceeds is that of space. Soja (1993) argues that academic study has, in the modern era, privileged time and history over space and geography. He claims, however, that,

    The material and intellectual contexts of modern critical social theory have begun to shift dramatically. In the 1980s, the hoary traditions of a space-blinkered historicism are being challenged with unprecedented explicitness by convergent calls for far-reaching spatialization of the critical imagination. A distinctly postmodern and critical human geography is taking shape, brashly reasserting the interpretive significance of space in the historically privileged confines of contemporary critical thought. (Soja, 1993: 137)

    The feminist geographer, Massey, takes the argument a step further by suggesting that space in male-dominated thinking has been coded feminine and aligned with stasis, passivity and depoliticization. She wants to rescue space from this position and make clear the relationship between space, social relationships and identity, with all the implications of dynamism, multiplicity of meanings and power that this implies. The strategy she adopts is to rethink the concept of space in terms of relationships and identity (1994: 6–7).

    This shift in thought is reflected in my own reconceptualization of leisure as social space or, in Foucault's (1986) terms, other spaces, ‘heterotopias’ which allow for constructions of the self which are different from those of the everyday constraints of our lives. The inevitable tension between freedom and constraint in leisure experience, and between individual resistance, negotiation and struggle and structural and cultural constraint, therefore also emerges as a recurring theme throughout the book. Feminist theory for a decade focused on the constraints on women's leisure, but more recently has also explored the possibilities that leisure offers for liberation.

    In this book, as the various theoretical perspectives are presented and discussed, it will become obvious to the reader that theories arise in particular socio-political and cultural climates. There are two underlying assumptions in my presentation of the various theories. The first relies on Weber's (1970) notion of ‘elective affinity’ and Foucault's (1980) concept of ‘discourse’. ‘Elective affinity’ refers to the notion that the ideas that are adopted and propagated at certain historical moments are those which are in the interests of powerful groups. By ‘discourse’ Foucault means an assemblage of statements arising in an ongoing conversation, mediated by texts, among speakers and hearers separated from each other in time and space which take on the credibility of ‘truth’ and which are constructed as knowledge by the powerful. Thus, my first assumption is that power, knowledge and theory are inextricably interlinked. The second assumption is that while no one theory has all the explanations for human behaviour or human selfhood, each has some insight to contribute. In hindsight it is possible then to observe some of the yawning gaps in the functionalism of the 1960s and 1970s, the Marxism of the 1980s and the Western, middle-class feminism of the late 1980s and early 1990s. But this is not to dismiss them – it is to recognize their relationship to power and knowledge and the blinkers thus imposed. It is also to value their contribution to the cumulative uncovering and understanding of, in this instance, the sphere of human endeavour called leisure.

    It is my opinion that as sociologists we do a disservice to our discipline if we rigidly appropriate any one theoretical perspective in our analysis of any human phenomenon. Recent theorizing in the disciplines of physics, philosophy and theology suggest that both the cosmos and the individual human being do not obey the rules previously set down by their disciplines. There is a sense of nature and human nature being more than can be explained by rules. There is an element of wonder and surprise at happenings and behaviour (see O'Shea, 1995, for a more detailed discussion of these ideas). We, in the social sciences, must also be aware that human beings are more than our attempts to explain the patterns of their social behaviour. Individuals, groups, cultures, societies constantly surprise us – they will not fit neatly into our categorization. The current thinking in postmodernism concerning diversity, difference, complexity and eclecticism has reverberations in my own construction and presentation of the ideas in this book. As I have progressed through the various theoretical perspectives, I have taken what I see as valuable insights from each and ultimately developed them in my own way (not always strictly as the original theorist intended) into my own feminized version of leisure which I hope will add some further insights into our understanding of leisure as human experience in today's world. The structure of the book reflects my own thinking concerning leisure, and especially women's leisure, as I have moved from my socialist feminist beginnings (see my Ideology of Motherhood, 1984) to incorporate ideas relevant to leisure from feminist poststructuralist and postcolonial writings. The chapters dealing with these perspectives appear at the end of the book. Although this thinking has obviously influenced some of the critique and evaluation included in the earlier chapters, those chapters do not claim to have their bases in poststructuralist theorizing. Rather, there, I have presented the contribution that each perspective has made to leisure theory and some of its weaknesses.

    The aim of this book is to provide a critical introduction to the leading positions in leisure theory and to guide the student through their strengths and weaknesses from feminist perspectives. The book is written to draw attention to the various leisure experiences that women encounter and construct in their everyday lives and the meanings that these experiences have for them. Insights that postructuralist theories have contributed to the meanings of leisure are included. This means that the predominantly male theorists of the 1970s and the first wave of feminist theoretical reactions to such theorizing are examined from a perspective that takes into account poststructuralist ideas such as: multiple subjectivities of women and multiple femininities; the possibilities of resistance to and subversion of male domination through leisure; possibilities through leisure of rewriting masculine and feminine scripts; access through leisure to alternative discourses which challenge dominant discourses on gender; sites of leisure as culturally gendered enclaves which also offer opportunity for struggle and resistance to hegemonic masculinity; and the productive as well as the repressive aspects of power relations. Women in this work are portrayed not as passive victims of structured inequalities which favour males, but as active thinking beings who can and do challenge some aspects of male domination through leisure. Structural constraints on women's leisure are not ignored – they are placed in tension with opportunities for leisure which women carve out, even in oppressive circumstances. Thus, the selves which women construct in their own political, cultural and discursive spaces are not presented here as completely fragmented or as totally socially determined. To the extent that each woman has the ability to synthesize past and present selves into a cumulative whole, and to resist total domination, I believe that she has an ongoing, if changing, self. In this regard I differ from the postructuralist feminists whose work I draw on in the book.

    The book goes beyond previous leisure texts by providing a feminist critique of the variety of leisure theories based in masculine ways of viewing the world. It goes beyond previous feminist analyses of leisure by giving an overview of the diversity of feminist theoretical perspectives. In addition it applies, not uncritically, some of the insights of Foucault, French feminists and other poststructuralist and postcolonial feminists and masculinists to men's and women's leisure with a view to improving the quality of life of both.

    The definition of leisure varies as the book progresses, as it is constructed differently within different theoretical perspectives. The methodology adopted by different perspectives also varies in accordance with the definition. For example, in functional theory, leisure is a category separate and different from work, and interpreted as non-work time and activity. Consequently the methodology for empirical research based on this definition relies on the ability on the researcher's part to categorize time spent and activities engaged in as non-work. Quantitative methods are used. In symbolic interaction theory, leisure is an experience, the meaning of which varies from individual to individual. Hence, in empirical research, data is collected concerning the subjective meanings attached to experiences defined by individuals as leisure. Qualitative methodology produces this data. In the final chapters of the book, where insights from poststructuralist and postcolonial feminist theory are the focus, leisure has been redefined as personal space, making room for the inclusion of a wider range of experiences, as well as a wider range of participants. Research conducted around this definition asks us to listen to the voices of those who do not belong to dominant groups or cultures and who previously have been invisible in leisure research. Here again qualitative methods are appropriate, with an emphasis on the speaking subject. Throughout the book, however, leisure remains a concept conceived around an element of relative freedom within the very many pressures, constraints and sites of power in contemporary society. It is a sometimes temporary respite or a different space (Foucault's ‘heterotopia’) within the demands of daily living.

    As a feminist text, the author appears within the text, implicitly through the perspective adopted and, at times, explicitly through the incorporation of some of my own experiences and research. Finally I develop my own feminist perspective on leisure, looking to future possibilities for women and men to experience liberating leisure.

    The book provides an overview of leisure theories with particular focus on their usefulness for understanding and improving women's leisure experiences. Men's leisure is also considered, in the light of feminist theorizing. As an educational tool this work encourages students to take what is useful from the theories presented and develop and apply the concepts to their own leisure experiences, those of the people they know and those they will encounter as professionals. In addition, it suggests some future directions for leisure research, leisure policy and professional practice.

    My own interest in the sociology of leisure began with a study leave spent in Sweden in 1985. I was comparing Swedish and Australian social policy in an attempt to explain the greater convergence in Sweden of men's and women's incomes. The progressive Swedish policy of generous parental leave at the birth of a child and for the care of a sick child up to eight years of age, and the increase in availability of part-time jobs, enabled women to remain in the workforce during the child-rearing years. This was one reason for women's greater access to wages or salaries than in the Australian context. However, as Swedish women talked to me, they said, ‘Betsy, by the time we are forty we are exhausted, we stay in the workforce and bear and rear our children and still do 80 per cent of the household work’. I began then to think about what happens to women's leisure under these circumstances. What costs are there for women in having greater access to economic independence?

    Returning to Australia I began to read the leisure literature and with one of my sons wrote an article, “All in a day's leisure”: gender and the concept of leisure’, which critiqued masculine views of leisure (Wearing and Wearing, 1988). I then embarked on an empirical study of the leisure of mothers of first babies (Wearing, 1990a and 1990b) which coincided with other feminist studies of women's leisure (see Deem, 1986; Wimbush and Talbot, 1988: Henderson et al., 1989). In 1991–2, I was seconded to the School of Leisure and Tourism Studies, University of Technology, Sydney, and began to transfer the application of my sociological knowledge from social work to the teaching of leisure theory and practice. This new area of study excited my interest and I perceived it as a more holistic, positive and preventative approach to the quality of human living than the problem-oriented approach of social work. At the same time my own socialist feminist theoretical concerns were being challenged by ideas from Foucault and poststructuralist feminism, so the two opened up new avenues of thinking for me. At this stage in my thinking I have tried to position the more optimistic perspectives of microsocial interactionist ideas on the self and post-structuralist ideas on capillary power and resistance within the constraints of the wider power structures of society. My geographical position in Australia influences my own perspective, as does my heterosexual sexual orientation. Through an educational system based largely on the British model, my thinking tends to be theoretical and critical, yet, as the reader will perceive, I have been much influenced by the pragmatism of American symbolic interactionism. Many of the examples in the book draw on the Australian situation and Chapter 8 is chiefly about Sydney, the city of my birth and upbringing. The literature, on the other hand, covers the relevant British, American, Canadian and Australian texts and those French feminisms which have been translated into English. In Chapter 9 there is a conscious attempt to let women of colour and women from developing countries speak for themselves in a book which may otherwise have excluded them. Where I write about the family and interactions in leisure between men and women, my own experience of forty-one years of heterosexual marriage has inevitably influenced my thinking.

    The book is structured with an introductory and a concluding chapter and nine chapters which examine the various sociological theoretical perspectives that have been applied to leisure. For the sake of clarity, each chapter begins with an outline of the basic concepts of that particular theoretical approach. The leisure theorists who have drawn on those concepts are then discussed, including feminist theorists and applications. Finally some evaluation of the insights provided by this approach is given.

    This introductory chapter has positioned this work within the development of sociological theory and, in particular, leisure theory from the 1970s to the present. In it I have presented my own interest in leisure and feminist theory, my approach to the topic and the underlying assumptions implicit in the book.

    Chapter 1 examines functionalist theories. Within the functionalist tradition of Durkheim and Parsons, leisure is posited as an institution in society which performs a beneficial function for society and for individuals. Non-work time and activities provide a balance for workers, both rewarding hard labour and providing recuperation and a sense of well-being so that they can return to their labour refreshed. Theoretical works such as Parker (1983) and Roberts (1983), and empirical time and activity studies such as Szalai et al. (1972) and Veal (1987), adopting this approach, raised awareness of the importance and value of leisure for industrial society. However the (white and middle-class) male experience is assumed to be universal and where women appear they do so as ‘other’ to this male norm. Analyses remain descriptive, gender power differentials are not addressed. Equilibrium in society is maintained by adaptations to change.

    Chapter 2 explores Marxist and neo-Marxist theories. Based in the Marxian problematic of relationship to the means of production, these theorists analyse leisure time and leisure activity in terms of the profit motive, commodification, exploitation, alienation of labour, conflicts of class interests and an ideological superstructure based on an economic infrastructure. They emphasize constraints on individual leisure, inequalities in access to leisure and leisure as an ideology promulgating ‘freedom’ but obfuscating economic inequalities and class conflicts. The function of leisure in capitalist society is critiqued by theorists such as Coalter and Parry (1982), Clarke and Critcher (1985), Rojek (1985, 1986) and McKay (1990, 1991). For these writers class is generally prioritized. Where gender is included it is as an additional variable in the causal chain of leisure inequality. Socialist feminists such as Deem (1986) and Green et al. (1990) attempt to chart the control of women's leisure through the interaction of the structures of class and gender. There is an emphasis on women's common experience of oppression as a basis for solidarity and political action.

    Chapter 3 is concerned with the implications of interactionist theories for the constraints and freedoms offered through leisure for the development of the self. Theorists such as Kelly (1983, 1987a, 1987b), drawing on the work of Mead, focus on the miscrosocial experiential aspects of leisure and on individuals as thinking actors (or agents) with an ability to construct leisure experiences which are both challenging and rewarding. The structures of power in wider society such as class and gender are not seen as completely deterministic. Feminist theorists who have adopted this approach, such as Shaw (1985), Samdahl (1988), Bella (1989), Henderson et al. (1989, 1996) and Wearing (1992a), show how the meaning of leisure in the everyday lives of men and women can be different, often (but not always) advantaging men. This approach allows for the development of the self through social space. It provides a foundation for hybrid constructions of the self beyond the structural determinants of gender, but has largely relied on social roles and socialization as explantions for gender differences.

    Chapter 4 looks at cultural studies analyses of hegemonic struggles in leisure spaces and subcultures as well as in the media and the sporting arena. Cultural theories with their theoretical bases in Gramsci's civil society and cultural hegemony, rather than in ideological superstructure and economic infrastructure, were applied to working-class leisure subcultures through the Birmingham Centre for Cultural Studies (e.g. Hall and Jefferson, 1976). Williams's (1983) concept of culture as ‘a whole way of life’ has been applied to the analysis of cultural leisure spaces such as the beach, the pub and the shopping mall with a masculine bias (e.g. Fiske et al. 1987; Fiske, 1989), as well as to the dance (e.g. Walker, 1988). Feminists who write from this perspective show how girls’ and women's experiences of these spaces are different from those of boys and men and involve greater constraint, but also some resistance to domination (e.g. McRobbie, 1978; Roman, 1988). Hargreaves (1989, 1994), Bryson (1987, 1990) and Hall (1995) apply this perspective to women's sport and the domination of this area by the culture of ‘hegemonic masculinity’. Yet here, too, leisure can be a space for struggle and negotiation for women to move beyond cultural prescriptions of femininity.

    Chapter 5 turns to masculine experiences of leisure when analysed using insights gained from feminist theorizing. In response to the feminist theorizing of the 1970s which sought to document and explain women's oppression in patriarchal capitalist societies, masculinist literature seeks to raise men's awareness of the experience of being masculine in such societies, with an aim to liberate males. In the sporting arena, the work of Messner and Sabo (1990) has contributed to an understanding of some of the disadvantages for males of excessive emphasis on ‘hegemonic masculinity’ through sport. Kimmel (1996), on the other hand, demonstrates the impact of American culture over two centuries on the construction of a hegemonic masculinity which individual men must constantly prove to other men. The most sophisticated theoretical analysis of gender from a masculinist perspective has come from Connell (1987, 1995), with some acknowledgement of the differential power relations extant in gender differences and the cultural construction of hegemonic masculinity based on the inferiorization of women. Connell has also applied his ideas to men's sporting experiences. Nevertheless, this work succeeds in shifting the focus away from male dominance of women, to the dominance of hegemonic masculinity over other forms of masculinity as well as over all forms of femininity. I argue here for the need for some concepts from poststructuralist feminist theory concerning embodiment to restore the balance.

    Chapter 6 applies recent sociological theorizing concerning the body and emotions to leisure. An interest in the social construction of the body has resulted in recent years in the emergence of sociological perspectives which place the body within a social and cultural context (e.g. Turner, 1984, 1996; Scott and Morgan, 1993). Implications for men's and women's leisure and sport in terms of aspirations and constraints have been touched on in the leisure literature (e.g. Hargreaves, 1987; Griffiths, 1988; Talbot, 1988; Hargreaves, 1989, 1994). This chapter develops these ideas further with regard to women's leisure. The constraints imposed on the use of the female body by its cultural definition are explored, as are ways of using leisure space to challenge and move beyond these constraints.

    Similarly, an interest in the social construction of emotions has resulted in a growing body of literature on the sociology of emotions. Simmel (1978), Elias (1986a, 1986b) and Hochschild (1979) have each made significant contributions to an understanding of the constraints that civilization, living in the city and commodification of emotions place on an individual's emotional expression and ways that leisure may provide a space for emotional release.

    Chapter 7 examines the contribution that urban sociology has made to the development of public leisure spaces in the city. For the most part, in urban sociology, women have remained invisible (Lynch, 1960; Castells, 1977; Harvey, 1985). Feminists such as Saegert (1980), Harman (1983) and Hayden (1984) have attempted to put women and their concerns into the picture. More recently, Sandercock and Forsyth (1992) and Watson and Gibson (1995) have turned their attention to the male world-views incorporated in the very foundations of urban theory. In this chapter the conceptualization of public places in the city as leisure venues for the male gaze of the ‘flâneur’ is critiqued. Instead I suggest the concept of ‘chora’ (Grosz, 1995a) as a safe space for social interaction and leisure experience which enhances the self and resists surveillance and control. The city of Sydney is used as an example.

    Chapter 8 examines women's leisure from perspectives adapted from post-structuralist theories. To date there has been little attempt to apply ideas from poststructuralist theories to leisure, with a few exceptions such as Hargreaves (1987) and Rojek (1985, 1993a, 1995). In this chapter I develop a feminist perspective on leisure which incorporates ideas from symbolic interactionism and cultural theory, as well as Foucault's concepts of power, discourse, subjectivity and resistance. Ideas from the French feminists such as embodiment, multiple subjectivities, rewriting masculine and feminine scripts and desire and pleasure, and ideas from Australian feminist philosophers such as deconstruction of dichotomies and subversion of male dominance in theorizing as well as in practice, are included. The concept of leisure is rewritten as personal space. Leisure is posited as a potential site for resistance to and subversion of hegemonic masculinity, by men as well as by women, with possibilities also for some challenge to racism and ageism.

    Chapter 9 extends the concept of leisure as personal and social space to the leisure experiences of women who do not conform to the theoretical analyses devised by white, educated, middle-class feminists. In postcolonial theory there is a critique of the domination of Eurocentric ideas and experiences as the basis for sociological analysis. Feminist theorists such as hooks (1984, 1989, 1993, 1996) and Spivak (1988a and 1988b) argue for their voices of ‘others’ to be heard, for their world-views to be incorporated into feminist theory. This chapter suggests some ways in which this may be done with regard to women's leisure experiences.

    The concluding chapter draws together the ideas which have been developed throughout the book and makes suggestions for leisure research, leisure policy and professional practice. Recognition of the importance of leisure as a field of study arose in the political/economic context of the prospect of increased non-work time in advanced industrial societies in the early 1970s. In the thirty years or so since this upsurge of interest, various sociological theories have been applied to leisure. This book examines these theories and their usefulness for understanding gendered leisure. An argument is developed for the inclusion of insights from poststructuralist and postcolonialist feminist perspectives which open up possibilities for leisure as a sphere in which hegemonic masculinity can be challenged and the quality of life of both men and women enhanced.

  • Conclusion

    In this book I have traced the development of leisure and feminist theory from its inception in the 1970s, as a critique of the universalism of male leisure experience in functionalism, to the recognition of diversities of leisure experience between women as well as between women and men, posited in the poststructuralist and postcolonialist feminisms of the 1990s. In the former, men's leisure as a complement to their paid work was the assumed norm and women's leisure was described as different from this, without any notion of the power differentials between men and women. Leisure as recreation and compensation for one's involvement in paid work was seen to be equally attained by all. In the latter, there is an emphasis on multiple sites and sources and effects of power, both in conceptualizing and experiencing leisure. As different social theories have gained prominence during the last thirty years, so different facets of leisure experience have been illuminated. When seen through the feminist prism, these theories have been able to bring added understanding of women's lives and women's leisure experiences. Inequity in access to leisure is recognized, but so also are the possibilities for the use of leisure to break out of oppressive relationships of power. In the area of relative freedom which constitutes leisure there is the potential for resistance to societal constraint and for expansion of the self and the exercise of capillary power. The possibilities for the destructive use of leisure space for oneself and others are also there. This aspect of leisure has yet to be researched and forms the topic for a whole treatise, outside the scope of this book.

    In this concluding chapter, I summarize what I consider to be the important points from the perspectives that I have discussed in the book. I seek to draw together the contributions that the various feminist theoretical perspectives have made to an understanding of leisure. At the same time, I take what I see as productive from each to contribute to my own conceptualization of leisure as personal space for the enlargement of the self – a space or spaces for ‘extending the horizon of one's becoming’, as Grosz (1995a: 56) has suggested in reference to women's use of public leisure spaces. In addition, I suggest policies and research which may be based on such theory. Finally I summarize the contribution that feminist theory has made to an understanding of the human phenomenon of leisure in the late twentieth century.

    From where I am writing in the approach to the millennium, it is easy to point out some of the gaps in the leisure theories of earlier decades of this century. At the same time I have my own poststructuralist, postcolonial view of leisure which takes into account the subjective experiences of women, both those who occupy a central position in white Western societies and those who previously have been marginalized. Throughout the book I have not lost sight of the structural power differentials between men and women across all of the groups that I have discussed. Rather I have left this in tension with my own version of leisure and feminist theory, including poststructural, postcolonial views of power, which acknowledges the capillary possibilities of power, as well as its oppressive effects. The theories that I have discussed in the book traverse the spectrum from the initial macro-Marxist feminist critiques of functionalism through the microanalysis of interactionism and the more diffuse approaches of cultural studies and sociologies of the body and emotions, to the attempts of poststructuralist and postcolonial theorists to deconstruct the impact of totalizing structures on a diversity of individuals. In this concluding chapter I seek to maintain the balance between the power of structures such as class, gender, race and ethnicity and institutions such as the media, to constrain individual leisure experience and the power of the individual and the group to see, resist and move beyond these constraints through leisure.

    Feminist theory in its application to leisure arose in the 1970s along with the Marxian critique of functionalism. Marxist feminists were critical of the functionalist notion that leisure is equally accessible by all and universally good for the individual and society. In their view this notion was a classand/or gender-based ideology which obfuscated and justified materially based inequalities in other spheres of society, as well as in the access to leisure itself. Leisure research from a Marxist feminist perspective focused on perceived structurally based gender inequalities in access to leisure. The research revealed the disadvantages in access to leisure faced by women generally and particularly housewives and mothers due to family ideologies based on the economic resources of male providers and capitalist producers. Working-class women were doubly disadvantaged due to the powerful structure of class and the added economic and social constraints that this imposed. Women's solidarity and political lobbying, based on a common consciousness of oppression with a view to making women's leisure outside the home safer and more accessible, were strategies for change suggested by feminists such as Deem (1986) and Green et al. (1990), who worked from this perspective.

    A more flexible approach was being developed out of the American pragmatism of Mead. Applied to leisure, this approach initially ignored gender power differentials (Kelly, 1983), but the theory itself need not exclude gender analysis (Kelly, 1994). The ‘I’ and ‘me’ of Mead's symbolic interactionism assumed a rational subject which synthesized societal input into the socialized ‘me’, and these ‘I's’ and ‘me's’ exemplified a male universal experience of the world. Nevertheless the theory itself is flexible enough to incorporate differential experiences of the world, including gender, as demonstrated by Goffman (1976). In addition, I have argued that the cumulative ‘I’, provided it includes emotional and intuitive responses as well as rational ones, can incorporate women's subjectivities and those of others who cannot be subsumed under the white, rational, male self. While recognizing that in the present circumstances most men still have greater freedom than women, women can, and do, use leisure as personal space to resist what they have been told they are by dominant discourses and to reach towards what they could be.

    In conjunction with the feminist social psychological approaches of Chodorow and Gilligan, feminists in the USA used interactionist insights to demonstrate that women's socialization and world-views such as ‘the ethic of care’ constrained their leisure participation. Leisure research such as that by Henderson et al. (1989, 1996) and Bella (1989) documents the sense of a lack of entitlement to leisure that middle-class white women have and differences in the meanings of leisure for these women than for their male counterparts. Whereas the men in their lives were more task and achievement oriented, women were more focused on the possibilities in leisure for social contact and the development of relationships with others. Strategies for change, in this focus, have a more individual approach than those suggested by the British feminists. By challenging the perceived constraints of women's socialization, women are encouraged to use leisure to gain individual empowerment.

    In the tourism literature (Cohen and Taylor, 1976; MacCannell, 1992), Goffman's interactionism has suggested that the leisure space achieved by crossing cultural boundaries may be used to enlarge a sense of self beyond the confines of one's own cultural prescriptions. The concept of hybridity, in which valuable aspects of different cultures are intermixed, may be applied to male and female cultures as well as to racial and ethnic cultures based on geographical location. Leisure then becomes a space for both men and women to move beyond gendered stereotypes. Nevertheless, without some redistribution of power between tourist and host cultures this option remains open only for the privileged tourist with severe costs for host cultures.

    As cultural studies approaches to leisure have developed, different theoretical approaches have been incorporated. From the early Marxian approaches to the leisure of male, working-class post-war youth, which was seen as a form of resistance to the domination of middle-class mores (Hall and Jefferson, 1976), cultural studies have themselves moved through feminist and poststructural approaches. A common thread has been the emphasis on Gramsci's concept of cultural hegemony, through which powerful groups in civil society have values and mores which are in their interests, accepted by all without coercion. There is not necessarily an economic base. Other sources of power include statuses such as gender, age, ethnicity, race and sexual orientation, as well as cultural and subcultural capital. Struggle and negotiation are common, resulting in changes in hegemonic control. Subcultures and counter-cultures contest cultural space and hegemony can be destabilized. Feminist studies of leisure oriented cultural spaces, such as gyms, pubs, pool rooms, beaches, dances and shopping malls, have shown male territorial dominance of these physical spaces and the concomitant symbolic dominance. Increasingly, however, women are contesting such spaces, forming their own subcultures in spaces such as body-building, and using the struggles over hegemonic control to enlarge definitions of womanhood beyond cultural prescriptions. Although not explicit, the idea of public and personal leisure space which can be used by women to expand their sense of self is implicit in feminist cultural studies of leisure.

    In the masculinist response to the feminisms of the 1970s and 1980s, leisure is presented as a space which men use to prove their masculinity to other men and to themselves. Hegemonic masculinity is the rough, tough, competitive and aggressive masculinity which is based on difference from a weaker femininity. It is the form of masculinity which brings men power and status. Nevertheless, according to masculinist analyses, such as that by Kimmel (1996), it does not come naturally to men – it is always aspired to but never permanently secured, for it must be constantly proved. In times when some women are gaining power in society and this form of masculinity is threatened, men use men-only leisure spaces such as football clubs to shore up a sense of masculinity which excludes and inferiorizes women. Men, then, according to these masculinists, are not entirely individually advantaged by hegemonic masculinity. Other masculinists document the poverty of emotional involvement experienced by men due to this predominant form of masculinity (Seidler, 1994). My argument is that, if leisure space can be used by men to reinforce a powerful sense of masculinity based on difference from and superiority to femininity, cannot it also be used by really strong men to move beyond such a fragile sense of self with all of the disadvantages of this that masculinists have brought to our attention? Leisure reconceptualized as personal space, even one in which there may be a hegemonic struggle over the meaning of masculinity, may be just as applicable to men as to women.

    The fundamental weakness in both cultural studies and masculinist approaches to social theory, when viewed through the feminist prism, is their failure to address issues surrounding gendered bodies. Hegemony and especially the concept of hegemonic masculinity is an amorphous term without some grounding in the social construction of male bodies. For all the valuable contribution made by Connell's (1987, 1995) sophisticated masculinist analysis, with its recognition of male power and the loss in power which must accrue to men if hegemonic masculinity is to be eroded, he downplays the power of possession of a male body in societies where this bodily form is valorized and the female body inferiorized. He conflates heterosexual masculinity with hegemonic masculinity and neglects the power possession of a male body gives to the gay males of his research. In his empirical studies, where male bodies are included, it is with a narrow focus on sexual activity. From a poststructuralist feminist perspective, the power attributed to the male body and the possession of the all-powerful penis, and the inferiorization of the female body due to its lack of a penis, means that even heterosexual men who are furthest from masculinity in its macho form, as well as gay men, can exert power over women. Physical and metaphorical space in the workshop, the factory floor, the boardroom and the home, as well as in the sporting arena, is accorded to male bodies.

    Recent feminist focus on the sociology of the body has emphasized perceptions of the body as culturally situated and culturally shared, pointing to male domination of the discourses which have defined the female body as lacking a penis, inferring passivity, receptivity and inferiority (Bordo, 1995). This perception of the female body, in contrast to the male body, is enshrined in the texts of women's magazines, television, cosmetic counters, fashion displays, advertising billboards and more generally in the written word. Women's own self-surveillance accedes to the interests of patriarchy in this regard. Such self-surveillance gains women's collusion to the objectification and inferiorization of women's bodies. Leisure is one space where this collusion is achieved through such vehicles as exercise regimes, fashion, shopping, romance reading and presentation of the self as a sex object. In the sporting arena, Young (1990) has shown how even relatively untrained men engage in sport with more freedom and open reach than do their female counterparts. Yet, argue feminists such as Grosz (1995b), if bodies are not natural givens but surfaces upon which social parameters have been inscribed, they become ‘volatile bodies’ and both sex and gender are open to re-interpretation. In the current socio-political and historical climate, she claims, such re-interpretation can give greater value to women's embodiment. It is possible then to rewrite the definition of female bodies as strong, capable, active and socially powerful. Leisure is one area where this may happen.

    Implicit in feminist and masculinist poststructuralist perspectives on the body is its social construction and therefore the malleability of its meanings. There are, then, many individual subjectivities that could be constructed around embodiment, if individuals were to recognize and resist dominant discourses, or if they had access to alternative discourses. I argue that leisure and sport provide spaces for trying out and changing rigid definitions of male and female bodies. Women who stretch societally imposed limits on the use of the female body by engaging in activities such as rock climbing and outdoor adventure report a sense of empowerment. Leisure, and more especially sport, can be a space for moving the body beyond its previous limits. The possibilities are also there for unwrapping masculine myths surrounding the male body and its use in sport in order to uncover some of the real men who play. There is also the possibility for opening up sporting spaces for interactions between real men and real women based on actual abilities, rather than on the cardboard cutouts of gendered stereotypes. Similarly, leisure may offer spaces for expression of emotions which go beyond gendered stereotypes.

    From the works of Simmel (1964) and Elias (1986a) leisure emerged as a space for the necessary release of emotional tension under the constraints of modernity and city living. For Simmel, public places in the city offered spaces for excitement which countered the neurasthenia developed to protect the individual from the constant emotional bombardment of city living. Although most of these were commodified and provided fleeting release, some such as sociability and the adventure, he claimed, provided experiences which could be taken back into the everyday world. For Elias, leisure and sport provide mimetic experiences for the release of emotions in a safe space as a counter to the civilizing constraints on emotional expression brought about by living in modern society. Although both of these men saw this release in relationship to male ways of being in the world, the ideas are applicable to females as well. They may not have similar access to such spaces, but leisure as a relatively safe space for emotional expression can give women, as well as men, the opportunity to explore emotions which are kept in check in everyday living for one's own protection and the protection of others. For women this may include anger and for men the more vulnerable aspects of emotional expression such as displays of true affection and caring. Leisure experiences such as sporting contests, theatre, music, films, television, radio, reading, writing and art may provide spaces for exploring and expanding one's emotional self beyond everyday social constraints including those that are gendered. The feminized version of the sociology of emotions presented by Hochschild (1979) suggests that our emotional selves go much deeper than the surface displays required in everyday life, so that the work needed to release the self from ‘deep acting’ is considerable. If this is the case, fleeting mimetic experiences through leisure may not be enough. Poststructuralist feminists such as Butler (1990) suggest that repeated performative acts are the way out of constrictive definitions of womanhood. I contend, with regard to the emotions, that leisure may provide a space for both women and men in which to engage in repeated performative acts which tap into deeper emotions over a period of time, thus going beyond fleeting excitement and release.

    Poststructuralist feminist theory attempts to deconstruct the binary opposition between the mind and the body and the mind and emotions where the former is valued over the latter. Revaluing the body and emotions taps into traditional female ways of thinking and being in the world and validates them, so that leisure as personal space for exploring these aspects of self acts as an enabling space for women. For men it may open up a space for moving beyond previous emotional constraints.

    Urban sociology, along with general trends in sociology since the 1970s, has moved from Marxist to poststructuralist analyses. Male world-views have presented physical spaces in cities as spaces open to unencumbered males about their business or pleasure in the city environment. Poststructural feminism has encouraged women to be subversive of male theorizing and to incorporate concepts more aligned with the variety of women's ways of being in the world. In the area of urban sociology these feminists have been critical of the perception of the inhabitant of the city as a flâneur who strolls about directing a voyeuristic gaze on the city's spaces, buildings and people. Grosz (1995a) suggests a more feminized concept of city space as ‘chora’ – a space for becoming – a space which extends the horizon of becoming. It includes interaction with others and possibilities for extension of the self beyond that which is confined by everyday practice. It is open then to both men and women as a leisure space for new experiences of the self. Such a conceptualization also holds out new possibilities for the leisure spaces which are part of the tourist enterprise, as I have argued elsewhere (Wearing and Wearing, 1996b).

    From my summary in this chapter it is clear that insights from poststructuralist feminism have contributed significantly to the argument that I have developed throughout the book. In Chapter 9 I set out in more explicit form some of the main concepts of poststructuralist theory as it has been applied in feminist thinking. Poststructuralist feminism presents a view of women that moves beyond that of woman as powerless victim of the oppressive structures of modernity. Incorporating a view of power which is not only top-down and repressive but also capillary, poststructuralist theory presents women as able to resist, struggle, negotiate and sometimes transform, at an individual, communal and political level, aspects of their lives which are oppressive. Nor is the concept ‘woman’ universally the same but experienced differentially by women within one culture and across cultures. And women themselves construct subjectivities which do not necessarily form a consistent whole. The ‘I’ of the self is cumulative and able to change with new input and through repeated performative acts which may challenge and transform traditional notions of womanhood. This does not mean, however, that women do not have some aspects of their lives in common. For example, present social constructions of the female body, almost universally present it as lacking a phallus and therefore not as strong, or active as the male body. Similarly, as Spivak (1988b) points out, there is almost universal symbolic, if not physical, elimination of the clitoris as a site of women's sexuality, forcing a focus on women's reproductive capacity rather than subjective aspects of her sexual pleasure. In addition, structural constraints remain. In Western societies state legislation has enabled women to receive educational benefits along with men and has redressed some of the imbalances in the workforce and law, but there remains much to be done at a structural level before women will hold, on their own terms, the positions of power currently held by men. In developing countries women yet experience gender oppression, along with class and race oppression.

    Another aspect of poststructuralist feminism is its concern to deconstruct the binary oppositions of malestream post-Enlightenment theory. So there is an attempt to deconstruct the hierarchical dichotomies: mind/body, rational/emotional, culture/nature, public/private, self/other, male/female, work/leisure. This has also led to attempts to rewrite scripts so that the former are no longer prioritized over the latter, but both are valued and interconnected. My own attempt in this book combines an attempt to deconstruct the work/leisure and the male/female dichotomies so that women's experiences can be valued and included in a leisure theory which can address both women's and men's leisure in a liberating way.

    Poststructuralist feminism also seeks to incorporate into theory concepts which are more directly aligned with women's experiences of the world, so that male domination of social theory is subverted. Failure to do this with regard to leisure theory perpetuates ‘the revolving door’ phase of leisure and tourism scholarship. Rather, in this book I have attempted to move on to the ‘door ajar’ phase where new scholarship challenges the discipline. In this model, ‘knowledge is viewed as social power and feminist analysis of the nature and construction of knowledge becomes an essential underpinning critique of gendered power relations’ (Atichison, 1996: 38). Hence, I have incorporated into the notion of leisure space the idea of ‘chora’ or space for becoming, for broadening the horizons of the self. I have then rewritten the script of leisure as personal space, both physical and/or metaphysical, over which the individual has some autonomy both to do something or nothing for her/his own satisfaction and to be alone or to include other people. This is a space where both women and men can resist what they have been told by society they ought to be and reach towards what they could be. It is also a space where, by repeated performative acts, they can expand subjectivities beyond gendered stereotypes.

    Postcolonial feminist theorists such as hooks (1989), Spivak (1988a, 1988b) and Collins (1990) are critical of Western, white, middle-class, academic feminists’ appropriation of feminist theory in order to get a better deal for women who are already privileged in many ways. Little consideration has been given to the voices and world-views of ‘other’ women. The continual presentation of the middle-class, white woman's experience as universal has had the effect of silencing the voices of other women. Construction of poor women, black women and ethnic women as ‘other to’ with implications of lesser importance is severely criticized in this literature. Postcolonial feminism urges that the voices of these ‘other’ women be heard along with their own experiences of suffering and oppression. When this is done, the family, for example, is not seen as oppressive but rather as a source of support and solidarity for its many female heads. Nor is paid work in conflict with caring for the family, but part of the caring responsibility. The idealized version of femininity is not one of female fragility, but of physical and emotional strength, that of active women who head families and instigate community action. There is a move in this literature to break down the self/other dichotomy, where the self involves the subjectivity and superiority of the white, Western woman and other refers to subaltern women as objects. For many of these women, the extreme emphasis on the expression and development of the individual self is also being critiqued in the deconstruction of this dichotomy. In this instance, community takes precedence over individualized selves.

    It is this latter criticism which is most relevant to my own reconstruction of leisure as personal space. For these women the concept would have little meaning in the sense of developing a self that is clearly delineated from others in the community of women, and the idea of self-enhancement without their enhancement as well would be alienating. And here I must confess that my own bias in building up the idea of leisure as personal space throughout the book has been towards individual enhancement. It was not until I began to listen to the voices of these ‘other’ women that the necessity for them of a communal sense of self became apparent to me. So, in the final analysis there is a need from a postcolonial perspective to break down the self/other dichotomy inherent in my own thinking concerning the self. The ‘I’ that these women talk about is very much one that incorporates the ‘we’ of the local African-American, Australian Aboriginal or the Pacific Islander community. As one Australian Aboriginal woman has pointed out (Watson, 1988, video), it is white language which projects ‘I’, ‘I’, ‘I’, ‘me’ ‘me’, ‘me’ and ‘take’, ‘take’, ‘take’. Aboriginal people talk about ‘we’ and ‘sharing’, not ‘owning’ and ‘giving’, or even ‘lending’. Any concept of leisure as personal space must also incorporate communal spaces for a communal sense of self which can go beyond derogatory racial stereotypes, as well as gendered stereotypes. I need to redefine personal space to go beyond the usual Western definition of ‘personal’ as referring to a particular, private, individual person, to include personal as a sense of being one of a group or community. There is, then, no reason why leisure as personal space cannot include others of like mind who as a group use leisure to express communal concerns and to enlarge a communal sense of self beyond the constraints of powerful discourses. Nor does this idea exclude the talents such as writing and art that individuals bring to the group. It is the interpretation of that contribution that is different, as Watson points out. She says: ‘When we are singled out for a prize for our art or poetry or music we hang our heads and think, but it wasn't just me, it was the whole community and our history that has made this thing’ (Watson, 1988, video).

    In a similar vein postcolonial theory draws attention to the deconstruction of the private/public, personal/political dichotomies. Socialist feminists will criticize my work for its insistence on the relative power of individuals to make significant changes in the position of women through personal space and individual resistance. Yet women who write from subaltern perspectives see personal action as invariably flowing on to communal and political action and back again to the self. Leisure spaces such as writing, poetry, art, dance, singing, story-telling and humour often begin in the private sphere and very soon become part of the community, frequently leading then to political action. In this manner subaltern women have been able to enlarge the sense of self that they have in worlds which have treated them badly and sought to stamp on their self-esteem. Bell hooks says of her own writing: ‘In counter hegemonic race talk I testify in this writing – bear witness to the reality – that our many cultures can be remade, that this nation can be transformed, that we can resist racism and in the act of resistance recover ourselves and be renewed’ (hooks, 1996: 7).

    The argument that I am presenting here turns on notions from feminist poststructuralist, postcolonial theory which include the deconstruction of the self/other dichotomy, the presence of multiple subjectivities within the self and the ability of women to challenge dominant discourses on womanhood through alternative discourses. Thus women are able to reach towards becoming more than dominant discourses tell them they should be. In many ways my project is similar to Probyn's in Sexing the Self (1993). In this work Probyn presents the gendered self as never fixed or stable like a ‘combination of acetate transparencies: layers and layers of lines and directions that are figured together and in depth, only to be rearranged again’ (1993: 1). She emphasizes the way that listening to the voices of women whose cultural position is different from one's own can introduce alternative discourses and enable one to imagine other ways of being women. She attempts to deconstruct the ‘I’ and ‘she’, through the imagination and through moving from ‘her’ experience to ‘mine’, and ‘mine’ to ‘hers’. Care of self in her terms is more than a personal endeavour, ‘it must be constituted somewhere between my self and hers: it must be able to reach beyond “me,” beyond who or what “I” am’ (1993: 4). Thus Probyn offers ‘a geography of the possible’ which is similar to my ‘personal space’ in that both offer the potential of care for the self and hope for ‘becoming’ and ‘extending’ the self through the use of the imagination and interaction with other women (1993:173). For both of us this is a political project which goes well beyond an individual enterprise.

    I contend, then, that the approach offered here has important implications for leisure policy. Policies and procedures need to be put in place at local, state and federal levels to address issues relevant to the positions of women in many and varied circumstances of oppression. Poststructural and postcolonial feminist theories suggest that leisure policies should not try to implement uniform policies for all women, nor try to give women equality with men by treating them the same as men. For example, money spent on football grounds for women would not work. Nor would public swimming pools, which are open to all, be satisfactory leisure spaces for women from Muslim backgrounds. Public leisure facilities and leisure programmes which act in the manner of pre-formed pigeon-holes into which women can be fitted will not be used by many women. They could act as cultural straightjackets for women, instead of spaces for becoming. As was suggested in Chapter 8 of this book, the concept of public leisure spaces as ‘chora’ presents us with possibilities for planning spaces which extend for women, children, older people, disabled and culturally diverse people, as well as for unencumbered males, the horizons of their becoming through interaction with others.

    The provision of public spaces in which people from a diversity of backgrounds can interact in ways that enhance the contribution that each can make and at the same time enable a stretching of the self beyond gender, age, racial and ethnic stereotypes is not purely utopian. One example of such a space is the interactive museum. Museums such as the Powerhouse, Maritime and Australian Museums in Sydney provide multicultural programmes which include people, music, dance, food and artefacts from many cultures and interactive displays which encourage ‘chorasters’, be they children or adults, to have hands-on experiences. In another example, local councils in multicultural areas such as the inner city suburb of Newtown have closed off the main street for at least one weekend a year for a festival which celebrates, through food, dance, music, art and theatre, the various cultures that reside in that area. There has also been a deliberate attempt to make Sydney's public parks, such as Centennial Park, safe for women, children, older and disabled people through well-lit, wide paths with smooth surfaces, ample seating and specific areas for cycling, rollerblading, horseriding and walking the dog. Money has yet to be spent, however, in the massive amounts that are allocated to football stadiums for the active use of able-bodied young men, on public leisure spaces which are open to the interactive use of other groups in the population.

    In leisure management the application of the concept of leisure as personal space providing horizons for extending the self would avoid the provision of set programmes which pigeon-hole women into already created spots appropriate to the cultural construction of female bodies and hegemonic control of womanhood. Programmes would be designed in which individual women could have some input into both the content and the process. There would be a deliberate attempt to tap in to the various ‘I's’, rather than the socially determined ‘me's’. To some extent personal trainers already do this, but at exorbitant prices, and both the goal and the process often fit gendered stereotypes and male oriented competitiveness and task achievement rather than personal perceptions of self-enhancement in a supportive environment. The use of the imagination to extend people's horizons beyond gendered stereotypes yet with sensitivity to cultural differences presents a challenge to men and the limited number of women who hold decision-making positions in leisure management.

    Research based on the poststructuralist, postcolonial perspective which has been presented here would examine the ways that men as well as women use leisure to go beyond gender and racial stereotypes. ‘How do men and women use repeated performative acts through leisure and sport to resist and transform dominant modes of gendered selves?’, ‘Do some men and some women interact in leisure spaces with recognition and respect for the other's abilities and contributions, so that each is honoured?’ and ‘How can these aspects of leisure be fostered?’ would be research questions which may be productive for leisure professionals. With recognition of the possibilities for diverse forms of masculinity and femininity as well as multiple subjectivities within one person, such research may move the leisure literature beyond monofocal identity politics to possibilities of coalitions between different groups of people with benefits for each. By opening up the concept of leisure as ‘chora’ or spaces, both physical and metaphorical, for interaction with diverse others and for becoming more than powerful discourses tell us we should be, leisure research may be able to make a valuable contribution to the quality of individual lives as well as those of oppressed communities. The leisure of women, other than that of the colonizers, has hardly been researched to date. Traditional concepts of leisure may not be appropriate for them. Concepts such as leisure as ‘chora’ or a space for becoming and persons engaged in leisure as ‘chorasters’ may be able to tap into leisure experiences in other cultures. Leisure retains, however, its sense of ‘heterotopia’, that is, a space somehow apart or different from one's routine everyday activities and their associated experiences. Specific programmes and policies may well be suggested by research which has a wider and more flexible approach and is more applicable in the postmodern era.

    Massive surveys with pre-coded slots to be ticked and computer analysed will not tap in to this information. Nor will positivistic attempts to statistically correlate independent and dependent variables in order to establish cause and effect. Research which includes insights from the perspectives presented here will focus on qualitative, interpretive methods able to explore the diversities of meanings attached to leisure experience for people from many different cultural situations. Sensitive, open-ended questions may produce results which push thinking concerning leisure into the twenty-first century.

    In conclusion, it must become apparent from the evidence presented in this book that feminist theory has made an incontrovertible contribution to leisure theory in the last 30 years. That contribution has included a greater understanding of the phenomenon of leisure when viewed from women's perspectives, but it has also contributed to an understanding of men's leisure. Hopefully, in the future it will contribute to the meanings given to personal spaces for people other than those who have colonized others. My own approach in the book has been impure, eclectic and neo-pragmatic, combining the strongest features of each feminist approach when applied to leisure. It is very much in the vein that Nancy Fraser argues is necessary if feminist theory is not to be stalemated into opposing camps. This approach, she says, ‘would encompass the full range of processes by which the sociocultural meanings of gender are constructed and contested. It would maximize our ability to contest the current gender hegemony and to build a feminist counter hegemony’ (1995: 158). It is also more likely than singular approaches to cope with the most difficult task for feminist theory of connecting individualized perspectives with structural analyses of institutions and political economy. The future of feminist theory, and hence feminist leisure theory, probably depends on such an eclectic, neo-pragmatic approach which draws on a range of theories, yet rejects those that are inappropriate. These would be those that do not present a perspective that allows the honouring of difference and the deconstruction of binary oppositions which have valorized the ways that men construct their worlds and participate in them. The future project for feminist leisure theory is to continue to open up spaces for women and men to move beyond rigid gender, class, race, age and ethnic definitions of the self which are limiting and oppressive, and to envisage spaces which extend people's horizons and provide the potential for personal and political growth.


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