An Introduction to Leisure Studies: Principles and Practice

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Peter Bramham & Stephen Wagg

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  • Front Matter
  • Back Matter
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    About the Authors

    Peter Bramham is a Research Fellow, and former Reader, in the Carnegie Faculty at Leeds Metropolitan University, in the UK. His more recent publications in sports studies are Sport Development (co-edited with Kevin Hylton, 2008), and two books on leisure (co-edited with Stephen Wagg) Sport, Leisure and Culture in the Postmodern City (2009) and The Politics of Leisure and Pleasure (2011).

    Stephen Wagg is a Professor in the Carnegie Faculty of Leeds Metropolitan University in the UK. He has written widely on the politics of sport, of childhood, of comedy and of leisure. His most recent books are: The New Politics of Leisure and Pleasure (edited with Peter Bramham, 2011), The Palgrave Handbook of Olympic Studies (edited with Helen Lenskyj, 2012) and Thatcher's Grandchildren? Politics and Childhood in the Twenty-First Century (edited with Jane Pilcher, forthcoming in 2014).

    Acknowledgments

    The authors and the publishers acknowledge the permission of the following to reproduce materials in this student textbook:

    Les Haywood et al. (1995) Understanding Leisure (Second edition). Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes.

    Figure 1.1Callois’ Classification of Games (adapted) p.17.

    Table 2.1A Typology of Leisure Activities p.37.

    Jock Young (1974, p.250) Mass Media, drugs and deviance in Mary McIntosh and Paul Rock (eds) Deviance and Control, London: Tavistock, pp.229–260.

    Introduction

    The structure of the book maps out different key stages in the life course; these stages are the ones that primarily interest leisure policy makers, leisure planners and managers. Traditional ideas have suggested and stressed the importance of the human life cycle and the ageing process – that irreversible biological clock that ticks away throughout the social status of living as a child, youth, adult, middle-aged parent and finally old age pensioner. At each developmental stage in the life cycle, individuals face pressing biological and psychological needs and these have changed historically as individuals charted their ways through the institutions of family, education, work and leisure. As we shall argue in Chapter 3, this linear view of the life cycle appropriately described collective experiences of earlier industrial society or modernity. People shared common backgrounds of class, of gender roles and of ethnicity as they grew up and grew old in locally based neighbourhoods. Much sociological research in the middle of the last century was all about the changing nature of social networks, the cohesion and solidarity of urban and rural communities.

    The concept of the life course better construes what some writers term late modernity or postmodernity, as, nowadays, people's lives are more episodic, replete with disjuncture and contradiction. Within leisure studies and the social sciences generally there are fierce debates about the nature of these changes and whether we now live inside fragile and globalized postmodern cultures which are seen as qualitatively different and divergent from the solid culture of modernity or industrial society.

    The life course metaphor can still be used to divide existence into discrete life stages but one's Dasein – that is, one's lived experience of the world – is more accurately captured by a geological metaphor; childhood, youth, adulthood, parenthood and old age are much more like tectonic plates that grind together providing diverse outcomes, challenges and experiences for different people. Some glide effortlessly on through the decades, others become frozen in or addicted to particular stages, whereas others may miss some out altogether. Biological body clocks do not necessarily measure time unequivocally; psychological, social and political processes may have different time scales and projects. Existential time, embodiment and biography must be contextualized with institutional/generational time and glacial time of époques and structural change.

    This book provides a foundation for students studying within the broad field of leisure studies. It seeks to provide an appropriate and accessible introduction to key principles of leisure studies and leisure research and also to develop an understanding of contemporary leisure and changing leisure practices. The first chapter of the book defines the field of leisure studies. Chapter 2 examines the main traditions, principles and practices of leisure research and the third chapter provides an historical dimension to leisure. The material covered aims to encourage the student to engage in reflexive analysis of his/her common-sense understandings of everyday life. It therefore takes a biographical approach in rendering current debates within the social sciences and amongst leisure researchers. It provides case studies and grounded exemplars to encourage students to engage with social scientific accounts and develop a historical perspective on leisure.

    Chapter 4 reflects this biographical approach as it focuses on childhood and play; likewise Chapter 5, which looks at youth and adolescence. Chapter 6 covers the literature around family and leisure, and Chapter 7 explores the traditional adult divisions of modernity around class, race and gender. Chapter 8 outlines the key arguments surrounding the growing individualization of people's leisure (and other) experience and details recent theoretical developments in leisure studies. Chapter 9 examines the position of old age and the retired in terms of leisure. The final chapter returns to policy and planning responses to these age cohorts of childhood, youth and adulthood. At the conclusion of each chapter, there are a series of student exercises and worked examples with key concepts and directed readings. Such exercises are derived from leisure-relevant questions and leisure debates raised in different disciplines.

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