Leisure has become an important domain in sociological research. While time is often spent in daily “pressing” activities, leisure time, in its multifaceted aspects, is rather oriented to convey new answers for individual and collective needs. Such answers are an important field for leisure studies as well as for the sociological questions connected with leisure. For instance, in developed countries, some of these answers concern the ways in which leisure may be spent in “the best way possible for me”, or “for my family”, or “for me with my friends”, hence focusing on it as a new basic human need/desire oriented to foster self-fulfillment. However, this idea of leisure as self-fulfillment may also foster a search for satisfying individualistic needs rather than committing oneself in more collective endeavors. In fact, over the last fifty years, the construction of specific meanings of leisure has increasingly followed the “individualizing” dynamics originated by postmodern processes of de-institutionalization. A thorough sociological analysis, including the specialized one derived from different applied sociologies, should study leisure practices according to a perspective that takes into due consideration how individual and collective meanings of leisure are coherently constructed as a choice to carry out certain activities, that is as a contextual effect whose framework is given by specific meanings always already socially defined. Compared to the past, however, the criteria for distinguishing among different conditions of belonging have changed. Unlike modern society, where class, age, gender, etc. were highly influential in determining leisure practices, today the sense of belonging is much weaker as a result of the postmodern dilution of those identity markers one could appeal to in order to take leisure choices. In other words, leisure represents a discursive construction whose sense is defined both by the specific meaning constructed by the individual and by the process of institutionalization – as Berger and Luckmann (1969) would put it – that legitimate certain experiences and their spatial-temporal conditions as “situations” for relaxation. It is therefore the effect of a social construction and also of the different social conditions existing, at a certain historical moment, in different societies. As a consequence of the diversified reactions individuals have with regards to these processes, the borders among the various aspects of leisure are increasingly being blurred, as in the case, for instance, of the borders between leisure and work activities, or between the time spent for self-care and the time exclusively destined to work. Such border crossing is the leitmotif running throughout the book. Albeit with a focus on sociological research, it has in fact a multidisciplinary scope appealing a variety of scholars and students interested in the study of leisure in contemporary society as a fundamental dimension of everyday sociality and sociability with very important effects on social cohesion as a whole. After an introductory section, where general frames on key definitions of leisure and leisure issues are offered, five other sections follow which concentrate on more specific aspects of leisure practices and forms in contemporary society.
|Number of pages||509|
|Publication status||Published - 2012|