• 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.


A major lacuna in Marxist, socialist-feminist, figurational and poststructuralist accounts of leisure forms and practice is the role of the corporation. This is surprising. As Ken Roberts (2004: 21) maintains, over the last one hundred years the corporation has unequivocally become the main leisure provider. Multi-nationals like Nike, Sony, Disney, Apple, Virgin, Calvin Klein, Cisco, Time-Warner, Exxon-Mobil, BP, Thomson, British-American Tobacco, Stella Artois, Ford and General Motors have become pervasive. The synergy between leisure forms and brand culture is so strong that some types of leisure and recreation activity and identity are now constructed around brands. Nike, Volkswagen, Harley, Apple and Corona have become cultural icons that signify particular lifestyle values and attitudes to leisure. These brands do not simply differentiate products, they also ...

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