Theorizing Social Class, Culture and Leisure

Authored by: Peter Bramham

Routledge Handbook of Leisure Studies

Print publication date:  April  2013
Online publication date:  July  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415697170
eBook ISBN: 9780203140505
Adobe ISBN: 9781136495595


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Marx has not been alone in predicting a future society where human freedom and emancipation are possible, given the right circumstances and the right time. Indeed, from its inception in the 1970s, Leisure Studies has been grounded in optimistic assumptions about a future ‘leisure society’. Forty years on, debates about the ‘leisure society’ still interest academic international conferences (Gilchrist and Wheaton, 2008) and provide the jumping-off point for Chris Rojek’s most recent work (2010). Indeed, one of the ‘founding fathers’ (if one dare use that politically incorrect term) of Leisure Studies and leisure consultancy in the UK and Australia began by forecasting leisure futures. Anthony Veal (1987) stresses five major measures of leisure: participation rates, number of participants, volume of activity, time and expenditure. He then outlines nine techniques of forecasting, including trend extrapolation, scenario writing, spatial models and composite techniques. But the results of such forecasting have been poor, and even when predicting trends in the right direction have hardly been earth-shattering in their level of insight into leisure and leisure participation. One can always demand more funding for restudies, but critics see that as the devil asking for more sin or putting a vampire in charge of a blood bank. So it is not only Marxist polemics and manifestos that get predictions wrong. Yet, Eric Hobsbawm (2011) argues that Marx’s analysis of capitalism is still valid and relevant today, given the global dynamic of capitalist development which generates internal contradictions of overproduction, economic concentration, crisis and change. Consequently, it is well worth exploring how key ideas have been revitalized within Marxist cultural studies, tracing how their exegesis found a reluctant and temporary presence in Leisure Studies.

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