Resisting, Reproducing, and Recreation Rurality through Leisure: Insights from Rural Canada

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 11:00
Oral Presentation
Kyle RICH, Brock University, Canada
Laura MISENER, Western University, Canada
Despite the persistent imagery of rural communities as homogenous, wholesome, and static, rurality in Canada is a diverse and dynamic concept. Rural citizens and communities are often required to navigate fluctuating economies, the outmigration of youth, and difficulties in accessing basic services such as health care, transportation, and other social supports. Further, following the increased professionalization of public services and leisure industries, rural citizens face issues of capacity accessing resources and designing or delivering leisure opportunities that align with the expectations and restrictions of public, private, and non-profit organizations. Conversely, rural communities are also often characterized by a relative abundance of leisure space (e.g., parks, forests, community centres, sports facilities, etc.) and rural sport and recreation are often praised as some of the most important (and in some cases the only) social activities. In this chapter, we will explore identity politics in the context of contemporary rural Canada. We do so by drawing from extensive fieldwork conducted as part of a participatory action research project with a rural community in the Almaguin Highlands Region of Northern/Central Ontario). We will discuss the role of leisure as a way of expressing and negotiating the tensions inherent in rural identities in contemporary social contexts characterized by rationality and connectivity. Our discussion will highlight the way that leisure allows rural citizens to reproduce traditional ideas of rurality associated with the physical environment and close family relationships, but also as a space to resist traditional discourses and create new spaces for redefining rurality. This chapter will contribute to the scholarly understandings of rural leisure as third spaces and the politics of leisure in changing social contexts.