• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

Leisure has always been associated with freedom, choice, and flexibility. The weekend and vacations were celebrated as ‘time off’. In his compelling new book, Chris Rojek turns this shibboleth on its head to demonstrate how leisure has become a form of labor.

Modern men and women are required to be competent, relevant, and credible, not only in the work place but with their mates, children, parents, and communities. The requisite empathy for others, socially acceptable values and correct forms of self-presentation demand work. Much of this work is concentrated in non-work activity, compromising traditional connections between leisure and freedom. Ranging widely from an analysis of the inflated aspirations of the leisure society thesis to the culture of deception that permeates leisure choice, the author shows how leisure is inextricably linked to emotional labor and intelligence. It is now a school for life.

In challenging the orthodox understandings of freedom and free time, The Labour of Leisure sets out an indispensable new approach to the meaning of leisure.

The State
The state

There would be no modern leisure without the state. Through its control of taxation, licensing, policing and propaganda, the state has imprinted its stamp upon leisure time. As Bailey (1978) and Coalter (2006a, 2006b) show, from the mid nineteenth century, state intervention into free time practice originated from an amalgamation of middle class anxieties about sanitation, health, work discipline, fitness to work, education and civic pride. Rational recreation was a movement founded in class control. The Victorian writer, Francis Fuller (1875: 717), expresses this perfectly, albeit also unconsciously, in a blithe, seldom quoted, little passage on the wisdom of encouraging the masses to use their leisure time in beneficial ways:

It is a point of self-interest and self-protection for us to exert ourselves ...

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