Between a Rock and a Hard Place: The Role of Leisure as a Map for a Better Future

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 14:45
Location: Dachgeschoss (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Karl SPRACKLEN, Leeds Beckett University, United Kingdom
We live in uncertain times, with an uncertain future ahead of us. If the policies associated with neo-liberalism and globalization continue, we will live in a dystopian world more frightening than those imagined by the writers of science fiction: a world of gross inequality, poverty and environmental catastrophe. But the future does not have to be like this. There have been counter-hegemonic movements lined up against the dominant mode of capitalism for many years, seeking to resist, de-centre and re-align the social, cultural and material world. In this paper, I want to explore the importance of leisure as both a space and a cultural practice in these uncertain times. I will use theories of leisure from ethical and political philosophy, as well as the sociology of leisure, to show that leisure has the potential to be a shelter for humanity in the mobile, commodified world we live in. I will draw on examples as far apart as rugby league, rock music and hill-walking to show that it remains possible to be communicatively free in leisure spaces, but such freedom is hard-won, and subject to co-option and constraint by the instrumental power of capitalism. To be part of the project to build a better world, leisure spaces and need to be continually defended by those inside them, while at the same time those spaces need to offer room for constructing inter-cultural alliances.