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The Labour of Leisure

The Labour of Leisure
The Culture of Free Time

  • Chris Rojek - City, University of London, UK, City University London, UK

216 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

Leisure has always been associated with freedom, choice, and flexibility. The weekend and vacations were celebrated as 'time off'. In his compelling new book, Chris Rojek turns this shibboleth on its head to demonstrate how leisure has become a form of labor.

Modern men and women are required to be competent, relevant, and credible, not only in the work place but with their mates, children, parents, and communities. The requisite empathy for others, socially acceptable values and correct forms of self-presentation demand work. Much of this work is concentrated in non-work activity, compromising traditional connections between leisure and freedom. Ranging widely from an analysis of the inflated aspirations of the leisure society thesis to the culture of deception that permeates leisure choice, the author shows how leisure is inextricably linked to emotional labor and intelligence. It is now a school for life.

In challenging the orthodox understandings of freedom and free time, The Labour of Leisure sets out an indispensable new approach to the meaning of leisure.

Positioning Leisure
The Leisure Society Thesis and Its Consequences
Roadblocks to Free Time
Visionaries and Pragmatists
What Is Wrong with Leisure Studies?
Multiple Equilibria: A Balanced Approach
The State
It's Still Leisure, Stupid

As ever Rojek's spotlight on the world of leisure is so bright that it makes the rest of leisure studies fade to grey. He has also clearly developed a new talent for conceptual concision and clarity, as well as a capacity to express complex ideas in terms that even students can follow. This book should go down well with students and their tutors alike
Tony Blackshaw
Senior Lecturer in Sociology of Sport and Leisure, Sheffield Hallam University

We all wish to be free, and know that others keep telling us that we are; sometimes we indeed feel free. Seldom, though, do we pause and think what all that means. Like in the case of so many other experiences, we start thinking about their meanings only when something goes wrong; we run to lock the stable after the horse has bolted. Most of the time freedom remains to most of us a mystery. Chris Rojek, the most insistent, systematic and knowledgeable student of the 'condition of being free', offers us a chance of repairing that. Having read The Labour of Leisure, we may learn what being free really means, how to practice the difficult art of freedom and what stops us from practicing it as we could
Zygmunt Bauman
Emeritus Professor of Sociology, University of Leeds

Rojek provides a much needed correction in understanding what leisure is--and is not--in the 21st Century. A welcome provocation concerning modern life
Geoffrey Godbey
Pennsylvania State University

The book was very interesting but unfortunately did not match well enough in the present course. However, I will seriously consider using it in case I will have an opportunity to give a lecture at a more basic level on the sociology of leisure and class which I shall propose to the authorities of my unit. If accepted, the course will take place Spring 2011.

Dr Ismo Kantola
Department of Sociology, Turku University
March 17, 2010

This is an excellent overview of the concept that has the potential to challenge students' often naive assumptions about leisure. It is, as all of Rojek's work, nicely written and is both accessible and challenging. It raises important questions about freedom and its mediation by structures and institutions. It might have included a littel more on leisure and young people from the point of view, perhaps, of 'learning to leisure'. Overall, , however, it is a very useful addition to the literature.

Dr Simon Bradford
Education , Brunel University
February 14, 2010

There are some useful chapters in this book in terms of theoretical context. The style is accessible and 'The Labour of Leisure' will be appearing on reading lists for other modules as well.

Dr Juliette MacDonald
CVCS, Edinburgh College of Art
February 12, 2010

Excellent book - as usual by Rojek. The only reason it is not essential is because it leisure forms only a dimension of modules - rather than being the central focus of a single module

Dr Daniel Bloyce
Dept of Sport & Excercise Science, Chester University
February 10, 2010

Supplementary reading; also being used by some students in preparation for dissertations.

Dr Nicola Smith
Humanities, University of Wales Institute, Cardiff
January 29, 2010

Very good and thought provoking book that is an excellent example of sociology at its best. The re-thinking and re-conceptualisation of leisure will certanily make students see it in a different way. However, the book would be slighly difficult for most undergraduates to read.

Dr Gyozo Molnar
Sociology , Worcester University
December 3, 2009

A useful book that shows how leisure has become a form of rationalised 'work' rather than free time and enjoyment. Clearly written and well organised. Too idiosyncratic and not sufficiently comprehensive for a set text, but some of my students will find this useful.

Professor Steve Hall
Social Science , Northumbria University
December 3, 2009

An excellent text which provides the reader with a through overview of contemporary debates in the sociology of consumption

Dr John Martyn Chamberlain
Sociology , Chester University
October 13, 2009

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chris Rojek

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