Leisure Studies: Themes and Perspectives

Books

Shaun Best

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  • Conclusion

    In this book, we have traced the history of the institutional framework for leisure from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day. The leisure experience is a very pleasurable and desirable aspect of the human condition. However, as we have seen, the motivation behind the leisure experience can involve the individual wanting to engage in forms of edgework, abnormal leisure or deviance in an effort to seek out the optimum experience. Often, such motivations can cause harm to one's self or others. It is for this reason that the state has taken such a keen interest in our leisure experiences and, in the nineteenth century, the state encouraged forms of rational recreation which were morally uplifting for the participants. The state is still engaged in a moral regulation of the leisure sector.

    The chapters have explored a range of social and political debates and I have attempted to show how these debates have relevance for the way we spend our leisure time.

    In the nineteenth century, leisure was believed to have an essential quality, with restrictions on what was considered to be an appropriate leisure experience for working-class people, women, children, older people, people with disabilities and people with learning disabilities. Over time, such restrictions on leisure have been highly politicised or have largely disappeared for many people.

    With the coming of the twentieth century, many of our leisure experiences became global in nature. Companies such as Disney and McDonald's were assumed to be involved in forms of global leisure and were believed to be engaged in a process of cultural globalisation in which American culture, habits and ideologies were spread across the world, making the world a single place. With the emergence of the information society, many leisure experiences are accessed via the internet, and again the processes of cultural homogenisation upon an American model are assumed to be dominant. With events post 9/11, many of the global trends have slowed down as terrorists often target leisure venues, transport links and retail spaces. Many of the cultural forms we enjoy, such as Chinese and Indian food, salsa, jazz and Bollywood have their origin outside of the dominant capitalist multinational corporation. Often, such cultural forms have their origins on the periphery of the global economy and are transferred to the centre by small family companies or even isolated individuals.

    Future leisure trends might suggest that people will experience greater freedom, choice and opportunity in their leisure experiences. In addition, our leisure experiences might become more mediated by the more advanced forms of technology becoming applied to our leisure.

    Government agencies across the world are expressing serious concerns about the environmental impact of leisure, particularly from tourism. Leisure in the future will have to come to terms with the ‘limits to growth’ thesis and become more sustainable. The air transport industry, in particular, has become a cause for concern as it continues to experience growth. The income inequality between tourists and people in many parts of the world who service their needs and the environmental damage that tourists cause through their demands for water, the provision of new golf courses, hotel accommodation and the enforced relocation of local populations have all been identified as possible causes of terrorism.

    Finally, the state continues to take an active interest in the leisure of the population, and leisure continues to be associated with the dark side of human motivation.


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