Leisure, National Identity and Celebrating National Difference

Authored by: Alan Bairner

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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Central to debates about the origins, characteristics and implications of globalization has been the widespread belief that cultural differences are disappearing under the weight of global forces. Amongst those cultural forms that are deemed to be threatened with eventual extinction are those closely associated with national identity. This chapter touches on the main elements of that argument before developing the thesis that in response to globalization, many national cultures are fighting back, resulting in the widespread celebration of what makes people nationally distinct (Bairner, 2005). Empirical evidence in support of this position can be found in a wide range of apparently diverse leisure experiences, including sport, eating and drinking, and domestic life. It is argued here that, whilst some leisure activities are more susceptible than others to global forces, often with complex consequences, it is still possible to identify close links between national identity and various cultural forms in numerous parts of the world. Indeed, to fully understand leisure practices wherever they occur, it is vitally important that questions relating to national identity are addressed.

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