Leisure, Community, and Politics

Authored by: Erin K. Sharpe

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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This chapter focuses on the ways that politics play out in the myriad social worlds that unfold in the community sphere. It begins from the standpoint that there is nothing natural about leisure; that leisure is ‘always, and already political’ (Rojek, 2005: 24). By focusing on leisure in the community sphere, the author provides a forum in which to put some flesh on this argument. To lightly sketch out to what ‘leisure in the community sphere’ refers, it might be said that it tends to be those forms of leisure that unfold in spaces that are open to the public, that we engage in collectively, and through which we inhabit or construct a subject positioning as a ‘community member’. Some of what comes to mind as finding a home within this definition includes the kinds of leisure activities that we find in public parks, markets, squares, or playgrounds, and community events, such as sports tournaments, festivals, fairs, or carnivals. This definition excludes leisure that unfolds in private spaces such as the home, or is untied to collective or community experience. To this extent it has resonance with Thibault’s (2008) concept of ‘civil sphere’ leisure, which he describes as that realm of leisure that stands apart from the private sphere of home and the parochial sphere of work. What this tells us is that in leisure in the community sphere there is always the potential for people to meet strangers (Sennett, 1993) and have unmediated interactions (Mitchell, 1996). These observations notwithstanding, this chapter operates with the caveat that the edges of all such definitions are fuzzy and porous, as they exist in degrees rather than absolutes.

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