chapter  1
21 Pages

The structural characteristics of modern leisure practice

In this chapter I set forth a position on the structural character­ istics of modern leisure practice which informs the whole of the remainder of the book. The aim is to provide the historical and structural context for situating the various rival theories of leisure that I shall consider later. The chapter is divided into four sections. In the first section I argue that we need to depart, once and for all, from the convention of associating 'free time' with leisure experience. Indeed I shall submit that the concept of free time has no intrinsic meaning. Rather, its meaning always depends on the social context in which it occurs. The case of women and leisure is given as an example of the problems involved in trying to use the concept. In the second section I shall examine the main organizational features of leisure in capitalist society. In the third, I shall consider the importance of a historical dimension in sociological inquiry into leisure practice. Finally, I shall critically evaluate attempts to anchor the sociology of leisure around a single, unified problematic: the problematic of class.