Yin and Yang

The relationship of leisure and work 1

Authored by: William R. Torbert , Joy Beatty

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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In common vernacular, work and leisure are framed as polar opposites: what is work cannot be leisure. Indeed, leisure is often construed as the ‘left-over time’ – time not spent at work, or on other obligations, time for doing anything … or nothing. By contrast, we will argue and offer various forms of evidence for a very different appreciation of work and leisure. In our view, leisure is the primary source of activity, inquiry, freedom, and love, while work is a secondary derivative, but one that can be chosen voluntarily and done in a leisurely fashion (e.g., to offer some obvious examples, piano playing, writing, video-game testing, experiential mathematics, etc.). Thus, in our view, work and leisure intertwine with one another and sometimes lose their boundaries altogether, more like the Yin-Yang symbol with mirror-opposite black and white embryos, each pregnant with its emergent other.

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