Work and Leisure in
Conference 2009, Cardiff
College Plymouth St Mark and St John
Crossing subject specialisms
Both the sociological fields of Education and
Leisure have solidified and developed since I began my academic career
Both have followed vectors as a result of several pioneering individual
and via informative struggles with organised perspectives (like
and various marxisms and feminisms) and empirical findings (including
historical ones). Both fields also faced constant demands for immediate
‘relevance’ at various times from practitioners. Both also enjoyed
measures of State encouragement or regulation. At the time, there was
no way to
predict the outcome of these struggles. For example, both fields might
have become specialisms within a broader grouping such as Cultural
2005), both might still converge, at
least in research terms, as an effect of
a ‘joined up’ State initiative addressing social exclusion in both
areas. As a
result, there is no need to see current boundaries or the existing
division of labour as based on anything other than contingency, nor to
any work that considers implications for both fields as less worthy of
attention. This paper therefore proceeds
to investigate common themes in the spirit of Adorno’s (1973:xx) remark
without any intention to offend actual schoolteachers):
traditional manner of keeping the categories separate...projects onto
the desire for order which marks a classifying science. The author,
feels more inclined to give himself over to objects than to schematize
We can redefine the ‘objects’ in question as
social patterns which reveal characteristic tensions between various
combinations of experiences and
practices of personal freedom and social constraint, political
Leisure and education
There are some social theorists who have specifically
applied the same general concepts to both areas, often using one or
examples of the trends they are analysing. Perhaps the most easily
example is Ritzer’s work on McDonaldization (e.g Ritzer 1993, Ritzer
Ritzer has used the term to identify the key processes at work in the
modernisation of the fast food industry, but he suggests the same
at work more generally, based as they are on Weber on rationalisation.
also wrote a famous piece suggesting that the modern university had
too, (Ritzer 1996) applying the term to the growth of modularisation,
casualization and the growth of so-called independent study. These display the same logic as the
personalized menu, the growth of Mcjobs, and the use of customer labour
organise the service. The whole argument has been the subject of much
discussion (e.g. Parker and Jary 1995, Pritchard
and Willmott 1996, Hayes and Wynyard
Marxist analysis clearly covers
areas, whichever variety of Marxism is deployed. Concepts like
have been developed in both fields, gramscian analysis sees both areas
subject to hegemonic patterns of crisis and settlement (for example
Critcher 1985 on leisure, Grace 1987 on State education) or in the work
of the CCCS/OU
Popular Culture Group (e.g. Hall et al. 1978, or CCCS 1981), and both areas were cited as locations for
state apparatuses in Althusser’s classic essay (Althusser 1987). Many
general models could clearly be applied effectively to both areas,
versions of globalization.
Bourdieu’s work in particular focuses on the
‘objects’ suggested above via his broad
sets or systems of cultural classifications and tastes affecting both
and education (and they are found in his anthropological work in
‘popular aesthetic’ (Bourdieu 1986) features an interest in immediate
involvement, and recognition, emotional identification and solidarity
cultural activity – the obvious example would be spectating at a
match. By contrast the ‘high aesthetic’ values the opposite qualities –
detachment, contemplation, intellectual analysis – the example here
visiting a modern art gallery. These two aesthetics are also at work in
education too, however. Academic values are not explicit about it, but
display the high aesthetic, coded as objectivity, critical reflection,
theoretical analysis. There is, for example a close parallel with
high aesthetic and the ‘deep’ approach to learning (Harris in Lockwood
and a connection with the central values of academic work, at least as
through assessment criteria, subject benchmarks, and what might be seen
professional ideologies of higher education in materials such as
taxonomy or Perry’s model of academic development (see Arksey and
is both optimistic and pessimistic. It does announce firmly that
activity delivers definite (aesthetic) pleasures, which needs to be
to students, and, as we shall see, confessed by academics. At the same
this set of pleasures and its association with social closure
inequalities of educational capital and thus economic capital. In one
Bourdieu (1988) offers a study of the actual assessment practices of
French schoolteachers, which reveals that they use unconscious
judgments to assess
the worth of student work, and often refer to matters of taste as well
technical merits. They also rely on
other social judgments, which produce a ‘whole collection of disparate
criteria, never clarified, hierarchized or
“style”, “general culture”, '"external" criteria such as accent,
elocution and diction’, and ‘finally and above all the bodily “hexis”’
includes ‘manners and behaviour, which are often designated, very
the remarks’ (Bourdieu 1988: 200).
offers promise at one level as a kind of study
skills approach (especially an ‘academic literacy’ approach – see
Harris 2007), explaining to the different groups that the pleasures of
people can be understood at least, albeit as a different system.
experimental film can produce considerable panic, anger and hostility
students versed in the popular aesthetic, as Bourdieu predicted, until
explanation is given of the aesthetic dimensions at work, using actual
from the substantive study on cinematic tastes in Bourdieu (1986). In
though, Bourdieu likens the accumulation of cultural capital through
educational episodes like this to the painful 'primitive accumulation'
economic capital, where 'like the Puritans [self made persons]...can
on their asceticism...and get the chance to realise [their ambitions]
in sacrifices, renunciations, goodwill, recognition...' (1986: 333).
after success, there remains the crucial status differences between
'autodidacts' and those born into the dominant habitus: the former are
[serious and anxious]...to escape the permanent fear of ignorance or
or to side-step tests by responding with the indifference of those who
competing or the serene detachment of those who feel entitled to
even to flaunt their lacunae' (1986: 330).
Bourdieu’s work can also be useful when
running educational sessions which cross cultural boundaries in the
direction too. Those raised in the categories of the ‘high aesthetic’
find it impossible at first to grasp the pleasures of popular culture
the James Bond film, or the soap opera. This sort of limit might be
for generations of elite cultural critics offering easy dismissals of
forms of leisure as hopelessly degraded, worthless, harmful or
have suggested myself that such unconsciously-reproduced but deeply
disdain is clear in most of the body of academic work critical of
example, of pornography (but not erotica), or of sport or risky leisure
2004). Popular cultural products instead
could be grasped ‘redemptively’, at least initially, if only to begin
understand their popularity, as some feminist writers have suggested
popular television or film. Genres like melodrama (Gledhill 1987), soap
(Geraghty 1991) or the violent action film (Walkerdine 1986) respond to
understandable demands for easy identification, close correspondence
‘ordinary dispositions’, and emotional or bodily pleasure.
It may be the case that ‘cultural omnivores’,
enjoying both aesthetics, are now more
common (Roberts 1997 was one of the earliest to suggest this for
at least, and the concept has been much discussed since in the
consumption or of taste), although there is still some suggestion that
easier for those with plentiful cultural capital to cross the barrier
popular culture than the other way around. Wilson (2002) discusses the
in sport particularly, but
Bennett et al (2009) seem to offer the most comprehensive discussion.
the applicability of such general
work, there are also different emphases and examples of unevenness. My
the UK Open University (Harris 1987) , pointed out that academics in
teaching Cultural Studies, were offering students excellent critical
of how conventional media worked ideologically. Their analyses
example, that an illusory ‘neutrality’ based on professional values
deeper hegemonic project to manufacture consent (the classic example is
Policing the Crisis..., Hall et al.
1978). At the same time, they seemed remarkably incurious and
the effects of the media that lay at the heart of the teaching system
OU, and seemed to think their own televised efforts were not worth
more ironically, the same academics then used the same forms and
educational broadcasting, run by the BBC, to disseminate their critical
They evidently simply believed that academic values and critical
would overwhelm the conservative tendencies of the media. Even analytic
might be in contradiction: ‘As a consequence of what in
hindsight appears to be a lack of self-reflection, Hall et al. may have
caught in a “recursive loop”... [they]...document some
of the “ideological methods” of the
press. Then ... they repeat these very same “ideological practices” in
own analysis’. (Doran 2008: 194).
To take another example, many academic critics
have launched scornful
attacks on the Disney Company for distorting history and representing
interests of powerful corporations, but it seems to be perfectly
apply the same attack to the modern university, which misrepresents its
traditional history in order to market to overseas students, while
major corporations to establish the Rupert Murdoch Chair, or endow a
professorship. We seem to have the curious spectacle of one institution
‘late capitalism’ with a characteristic mix of commercial and liberal
another one, with a slightly different mix, to
some sort of indignant moral and social critique.
In the same uncritical spirit, the potential
for combining the genres in order to borrow the attention-demanding
and pleasures of popular television to ‘make education fun’, or to do
‘education by stealth’ has been much explored since. Examples abound
from Sesame Street to current UK schools
broadcasting which uses quiz show, detective story, science fiction or
electronic game formats. There has been considerable critical
these examples ever since, however, much of it focused on unintended
curriculum‘ effects of popular forms – sentimental identification with
individuals and conventional realist narratives for Ellsworth (1989);
values for a number of critics from Mattelart (1985) on Sesame
Street through to Cook (2001) on Pokemon;
ideological forms like conventional narratives and
representations from Ferguson on Blue
Peter to the cognitive and affective harm arising from adult
pleasures in a range from Turtles...
to Muppet Babies for Kinder (1991).
It is rare to see much discussion in the use of popular television or
electronic genres in university teaching, however.
Work in HE
There has been much discussion about the ways
in which the work of academics in HE has been changed by the new
the impact of various audit or ‘quality’ initiatives, or
the vocational turn with a new crushing emphasis on the recruitment,
and credentialising of the new ‘mass’ entrants. The many summaries of
discussion include Ainley and Canaan (2006), or Harris (2006). What is
less well-discussed is the effect of more specific work conditions in
universities, the production of ‘teaching objects’ of various kinds
2005), the need to codify and operationalize academic knowledge as a
modules, programmes, teaching materials, and assessment tasks. Another
academic self-misunderstanding imagines that these circumstances have
constraining effects at all, that academics freely and spontaneously
ideas regardless of the conventions operating in the institutions which
them. Yet institutional mechanisms define and regulate what counts as a
or ‘balanced’ argument, reasonable and fair assessment and assessment criteria, work of a suitable ‘level’ and
standard, and what counts as an ‘ethical’ research proposal.
insist on a steady output of approved publications, the pursuit of
research, ideally as part of a programme, the generation of income, a
reasonable teaching workload which includes the production of
material, particular recruitment and retention policies and so on. In
these constraints have, at least on occasion, been as important in the
development of academic knowledge as theoretical disputes or
The emphasis on work tends to dominate much student
activity too, as in classic approaches to study skills. It is often
from unconventional backgrounds that are particularly targeted here.
approach suggests that these students really ought to get some
practise self-denial, get themselves organised and workmanlike.
turns into advice to pursue the most gruelling regimes of primitive
accumulation. McIlroy (2003: 45) sounds a Foucaultian note: 'Grades may suffer and
career ambitions may not be realised if students are unable to regulate
lives'. He goes on to advocate memorizing the module outlines and a
list of key
terms. It is
common to advocate a technique called SQR3 (whose origins are lost in
study skills literature tends to be very self-referential rather than
particularly well-referenced). Students are urged to survey, question
each piece of work thoroughly and carefully at least three times.
Sinfields’s (2003) best seller has an equally pervasive and repetitive
QOOQRRR, pronounced ‘cooker’ – question, overview, overview, question,
re-read and review – apparently to be applied to a text one paragraph
at a time.
Even if they are well intentioned, and
sometimes effective at coping with some of the more trivial academic
approaches can seem to offer nothing but grinding continuous work as
way to cope with higher education. I have met students who have been
exhausted, demoralised and desperate by such advice. Some have thought
should just memorise academic articles – in one case, to remember what
student called ‘all the dates’ (the dates of all the references listed
in the approved
Harvard style – 12 in the first paragraph alone). Unsurprisingly, he
himself failing to do so. With this case, and with many others, I have
why anybody would want to undertake three years of tedious work like
alone pay for it.
Of course, many students go into higher
education because they do want qualifications that will guarantee them
job. Of course it is perfectly reasonable for governments to insist
address the skills agenda, but as we all now know, it is simply not
to design fully vocational degree schemes anyway. The Leitch Report
simply assumed that qualifications would index some vocational skills,
especially after employer engagement, but many studies raise doubts
2005 has a good review, but
the most systematic examination of the actual workings of the knowledge
and tests of Leith’s ‘win-win’ scenario is Brown and Lauder).
caused quite a bit of earnest debate in some institutions but now looks
ludicrously optimistic anyway, of course. Many students must feel badly
down by a system that demands vocational credentials then cuts jobs in
Early interest in leisure tended to operate
with a strict distinction between leisure and work, with no specific
education at all. Leisure was often opposed diametrically to work:
place in a precious area of social life free from compulsion and
where pleasure was being pursued and freely chosen by individuals. Work
classic location of dull compulsion, exploitation, treating people as
an end, mass labour and regulation. Mostly, people went from one of
separate areas to the other during the working day. I would suggest
this is still
a common view of the relation between work and leisure, especially in
education: work is the dull, belittling, demoralising
business of addressing other people’s agendas
when coping with compulsory assessment, while leisure is the excessive
of inhibition and restraint while binge drinking in the evenings.
however, has developed much broader and deeper understanding of the
relationship. These can influence thinking about policy and practice in
Even the earliest analyses of work and
leisure noticed an ‘extension’ pattern, rather than an oppositional
members of the elite, who spent all day at work managing, making
networking, carried those activities over into their leisure time,
running charities, and joining clubs and societies.
Feminists reminded us that the separation of
work and leisure was probably a stance available only to married men
their leisure when they got home after work, unlike their partners. It
became clear that one person’s leisure was another person’s work,
leisure was turning into an industry itself.
Conversely, it was clear that not all areas of work
were as dehumanising
as the classic factory production line: some
work could even offer pleasures. Even for
the wretched worker chained to the
machine, moments of fantasy and escape were possible occasionally; a
mental or virtual leisure, Rojek insists (2000). The possibility arises
such pleasures are available in academic work too, even for the
academic or student. In higher education, people are still officially
encouraged to be independent, free, not operating under compulsion,
make decisions after a challenge, and come to personal resolutions.
Leisure and pleasure in HE
Leisure Studies increasingly identified
leisure as a matter of experiencing the classic pleasures of freedom
choice, via fantasy and other processes which add meanings to
this very general notion developed, researchers began to investigate
types of pleasure as well. Influential work by Csikszentmihalyi,
example, opened up the issue by referring to a pleasurable mental state
‘flow’. This refers to a feeling that one is on some sort of automatic
above it all, perfectly balanced between feeling challenged and feeling
competent. In such a state, time appears to be suspended, as are all
concerns and worries that dominate everyday life. Rock climbers can
flow when they just seem to move without any apparent effort across the
face; so can sportspeople when they are ‘in the zone’; so can clubbers
in the joys and anonymity of dance; so can leisure bikers.
There has been considerable work since,
thinking of implications in sport, leisure and work, in trying to
encourage ‘flow’ in various ways (see Bryce and Haworth 2002, Jones et
One specific project attempted to induce aspects of the experience of
student assessment tasks (Gammon and Lawrence 2006), mostly by trying
the necessary balance between risk and competence. Such efforts seem to
required some considerable and controversial operationalization of the
characteristics of flow, however, for example by rendering the
qualities of the leisure task as increased choice in assessment
simply encouraging students ‘to trust in
their abilities and skills and not focus on their potential grade’
Lawrence 2006: 138), while inciting tutors not to coach unduly. The
also seems to have involved a number of other ‘good practices’, not
particularly related to flow as such which might have had an effect –
certainly, flow was not itself measured during assessment. Apart from
variety of measures on offer to do this, the ‘talk aloud’ technique
helped considerably to pin down the experience for the students (see
an example of the more quantitative
approaches, Shin (2006) begins with some careful work to distinguish
various dimensions of flow before testing students’ experiences on an
course. Questionnaire data were analysed to reveal five underlying
(5 items), time distortion (3), telepresence (4), focused attention (5)
engagement (4)’, which together explained 60% of the variance in the
construct (Shin 2006: 712) . ‘Telepresence’ seems to be a factor
associated with the vividness and memorability of the interaction with
program. Measures of flow were then correlated with overall student
satisfaction with the course, resulting in ‘a moderately strong and
correlation’ (717). Overall, however, states of flow varied quite
the student sample and were also quite dynamic and volatile.
Rojek (200) notes the connection between flow
and other notions of the pleasure of travelling or journeying, in the
metaphorical sense as well as the literal. These are much better known
academics personally than the pleasures of rock climbing, perhaps,
confessing that academic work is pleasurable is still rare. Flow maybe
example of a more general process implicated in various methodological
including the narrative turn and the performative turn. It is
associated with a
more durable experience of shared time, as in the various kinds of
leisure and politics. Pink (2008) offers an example of the kinship
methodological and political dimension in her account of performative
ethnography in researching the ‘Slow Cities’ movement in various
obviously finds her work pleasurable as well..
Indeed, many ethnographic studies are clearly
capable of inducing pleasures of various kinds in the researcher and
reader, although confessing to those pleasures still seems difficult.
To take an
example that happen to be at hand, Willis’s Introduction (in The
Disney 1995: 2) places the issue of pleasure at the heart of her
visitor reactions to visiting Disney theme parks, and this leads to
typical argument. Willis can see that visitors enjoy their visits in a
bland and mildly enthusiastic way – but this ‘comfortable acceptance of Disney ideologies...reside in the pleasure of
not having to confront the flip side
of Disney’s patriotism, hygiene and gender codes’. Although she seems
the more carnivalesque atmosphere of New Orleans, Willis reminds us
that she is
herself immune from any pleasures – ‘I realized I would never be
Everything that other people do for leisure or to escape is what I do
work...I suspect the same holds true for the co-authors in general’ (The Project on Disney 1995: 9). She clearly
feels this stance need not be explained any further, unlike the
reactions, certainly not as some effect of academic ideologies.
In another more recent example, Ellis and
Bochner (2006) are defending their autoethnographic approach by
conversation initiated by watching a news broadcast from New Orleans
Hurricane Katrina. Ellis says:
addict getting my fix and TV news. I can't pull myself away from
images of the horrors of loss... I don't want people away. I want to
close as I can... give some sign, however inadequate, that somebody is
listening, somebody cares, somebody really wants to know... sometimes I
if I am there' (Ellis and Bochner 2006: 430)
And later: 'Art [Bochner] and I wipe
tears. "Those people feel all alone," I say. "Somebody's got to
show them that we're all in this together."' (Ellis and Bochner 2006:
447). Although tears are involved, this is clearly pleasurable work for
and Bochner, something they find fulfilling, both academically and as
they want to feel emotions, and consider that academic approaches that
impersonal are repressed and patriarchal.
The category of ‘serious leisure’ was coined
by Stebbins (see, for example, Stebbins 2000) and it began to clarify
possibilities for intellectual activity as pleasurable. Stebbins uses
to explore the pleasures of work-like activity from charity work to
old engines, rather as in the ‘extension’ pattern mentioned above. The
has been applied specifically to higher education. Jones and Symon
tell us that Stebbins defines serious leisure as having six
qualities: 'perseverance, the following of a
"career" path, significant personal effort, benefits to the
individual, their identification of participants with the activity, and
unique ethos that exists within the activity'. Clearly, this will
interests of the important category of students who see HE as an arena
personal or ‘lifelong’ learning. They will be looking for clear
outcomes from their study, and include people who are in careers
who are unable to enter relevant job markets, through various forms of
disability, or perhaps because they are ‘occupationally mature’ or who
other commitments. One such ‘cognitive tourist’ reported that he had
courses at the UK Open University for 40 years, in areas quite outside
vocation: he had accumulated ‘an honours degree...[two MAs]... and
diplomas. And not one of these has been for anything but pleasure’
2009). Of course, recent UK Government policy insists that returning
now pay full fees if they wish to obtain equivalent qualifications.
and Symon (2001: 275) also
mention the excitement of academic study, via a link with an
analysis of the growth of sport as a way of managing violent emotions:
work can provide a quest for excitement -- 'lifelong learning as
of tension-relief'. This form of tension relief has important
‘civilising’ consequences, and deserves emphasis in the UK Government’s
policies of social inclusion: the social capital acquired can
fabric of communities and encourage citizenship, critical awareness and
understanding' (Symon and Jones 2001: 276).
work also discusses the
central social and personal implications of modern leisure which takes,
argues, much more complex forms than are usually captured by either
‘serious leisure’ or the conventional
sociological discussions of consumerism including commercial leisure.
own specific interest in ‘specialised play’ limits itself to particular
of leisure, although it seems to describe certain activities which are
to academic life – acquiring a knowledge and vocabulary in order to
some depth and over time activities that enable us to develop and
identity in an important area –‘metaphoric communication’. In play,
expectations do not apply, and... [players]... are able to realise
purposes in their own creations' . In this way, specialized play can be
to lend actors support, depth of experience and individuality'
473). Kjølsrød (2009) tries out additional approaches to understanding
modern leisure, including ‘edgework’. Her redefinition of the pleasure
as ‘a pattern of gratifying revolt, where people willingly take
(Kjølsrød 2009: 383) also leads to the implication that
such pleasure is maximised
after considerable ‘physical and/or psychological mastery’ (379).
pleasures are usually associated with physical activity, she notes that
expert, and allowing for the ability to symbolise, fantasise or develop
even intellectual pursuits are not without risk. In other words,
although she does
not specify academic pursuits, Kjølsrød’s discussion
helps us understand the leisure-like
One of the characteristics of the turn away
from such functionalism and towards pleasure in Leisure Studies
controversial indifference to conventional value judgements, justified,
classic manner, as necessary to understand phenomena and not, of
condone them. One consequence has been
an interest in illegal leisure like taking recreational drugs or taking
forbidden activities such as BASE jumping. It is certainly the case
official policy towards these illegal activities often fails to grasp
there are pleasures involved at all, and assumes that participants
ignored the risks and need to be solemnly warned about them. In one of
famous controversies, Rojek and Aitchison disagreed fundamentally about
attempting to see interpersonal violence and murder as explicable
delivered the ‘peak experience’ characteristic of much risky leisure.
(2000: 168) answered his critics by pointing out that violence always
continues to be a major theme of leisure. Thus simple condemnations
‘ naive and politically partisan view... [which offers]... no basis for
mature and detached approach to leisure studies’. It
is certainly the case that the pleasures of
being given permission to engage in licensed violence are a major
sporting activity (Kerr 2004).
What of ‘symbolic violence’? For Bourdieu et
al. (1999) it is almost inevitably present whenever an academic
attempts to subsume a more popular discourse by treating experiences
in the latter as mere data for the former. This implies first that
are hardly in a position to criticise the violence of leisure pursuits,
more radically still, that academic violence might be as much a source
pleasure for academics as physical violence is for sportspeople. At one
all academics know that there is much pleasure to be gained from
debate and critique with other academics, and it is undeniably
offer academic critique: it is probably like the pleasure of possessing
superior insight that so appeals to the young clubber in their pursuit
‘cool’ ‘underground’ activities (Malbon 1999).
I know of no studies, but I have certainly
heard academics describing combative debate in much the same terms as
(2004) discuses sporting violence: violence is acceptable in special
aside for the purpose; participants are in effect consenting to having
inflicted upon them; violence can be justified in terms of a higher
(including raising standards), some deeper social cohesion is achieved
combat, and so on. Pronger’s (1999) analysis of the unconscious
structure of Desire
in sporting contests could also be applied to academic and business
the author suggests: the same 'libidinal economy of territorial
domination' is found in each area (1999: 376). This kind
of pleasure can serve to exclude
flow, Pronger suggests, in favour of something rather more visceral.
Although writers like Ellis and Bochner
(2006) (above) might deny that they are gaining pleasure from exerting
violence over the people they are watching on TV by using their
support for an academic argument, even they clearly enjoy scoring a
two in the tussle with one of their critics:
“I think [critics
like Anderson are] victims of their own socialization as social
they can't conceive of a bridge between [Art and Science]... Leon
... [and]... many others... resist the broadening of sociological
beyond the empiricist agenda under which they were educated...
domains]... are not present in Leon's piece... Leon doesn't even
elements...” [says Ellis]. "Do you think he missed the narrative turn?
Maybe he was turning the other way." [says Bochner] We
laugh together (440)...
I know Leon
[Anderson], and I've admired his work for years, and he might not do
to make autoethnography lose its focus] intentionally... Art [Bochner]
“No surprise there. Your impulse almost always is to try to get along
your harshest critics” (432).
and Bochner seem to be
patronising the unfortunate Anderson, denying it, and then claiming a
kind of academic openness all at once.
Clough (1992) suggest that the pleasure of ethnographic
writing, possibly including autoethnographic writing, actually arises
form of realist writing that does indeed offer a form of symbolic
Participants’ experiences are subsumed not into a series of abstract
impersonal categories as in positivism, but into an organising
delivers a ‘knowledge effect’, an insight that some deeper reality has
grasped. We know that constructing such a narrative produces a
pleasure, one that might be called the pleasures of completion, or what
be called in an educational context ‘mastery’.
Clough identifies a number of realist
narratives, including emotional realism, which has a particular
effect, a ‘co-presence’, what Ellis and Bochner reported (above) as the
that ‘sometimes I feel as if I am there’. This is because emotions are
particularly valorised as being universally shared by all. A number of
‘post-structuralist’ writers in Leisure Studies, including Beezer
identified the narrative pleasures in much ethnography as still
‘male heroics’ despite the open acknowledgement of emotions. Properly
pleasures seem to be guaranteed more by a complete break with that way
writing, together with its dubious categories of a narrator as a
subject, and the division between researchers and ‘others’. For Wearing
Wearing (1996) we should consider meeting others in a special social
‘chora’, a term reminiscent of Kristeva’s concept of a ‘semiotic chora’
linguistic location pre-existing the male-dominated symbolic order. For
Fullagar (2002), using actual travel as a metaphor, feminist writing
themes of openness, dispersal, becoming the other, transformations, a
particular kind of 'feminine jouissance' (2002: 66) (citing
There is a full immersion in the present, a 'desire to disappear'
rather than to transcend. What a transformation of academic work would
from pursuing these precepts!
Posing as stern and disinterested public
intellectuals, we have been unable to acknowledge to ourselves that
academic critique is pleasurable. However, I think academic writing has
obvious leisure dimension. It has long been the custom for hard-working
petit-bourgeois to denounce leisure in general as a distraction or
and this has become another aspect of the culture of the University. At
same time, academic culture has been misunderstood, especially in
a strong aversion to bodily violence while condoning, in a heavily
form, symbolic violence, or condemning the compromises with
leisure industries while promoting it in the education industry. Making
categorial distinctions of this kind and insisting that they remain
uncriticised while being reproduced as if ‘second nature’ is a classic
of the pleasures delivered by the ‘high aesthetic’ of course. Bearing
Bourdieu’s strictures, we might use them as examples of the pleasures
to the assiduous student, assuming they have not already perceived them.
It is unhelpful to worship work, even academic
work, and unreflective to deny the pleasures involved.
Leisure may be so important to our lives that
it represents the only occasion on which we are ever likely to feel
human. Leisure delivers those 'peak experiences' when we feel fully
enables us to 'flow' into an activity so
that we can leave behind petty obsessions and undesirable aspects of a
can experience ecstatic or 'oceanic'
states that enable us to see clearly how the rest of social life
can legitimately stand outside
the axioms, mores and conventions of society... Leisure enables us to
the rules...of everyday life and subject them to critical appraisal’
200: 21) Leisure has
all the functions of more familiar kinds of spirituaity, including the
to generate utopian critique, while it is also far more 'mimetic', that
more easily connected to mundane daily life. There seem to be
advantages in emphasizing the leisure-like qualities of academic
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