Leisure Life: Myth, Maculinity, and Modernity

Leisure Life: Myth, Maculinity, and Modernity

Leisure Life: Myth, Maculinity, and Modernity

Leisure Life: Myth, Maculinity, and Modernity

Synopsis

Leisure Life is a ground-breaking study of men and masculinity. Focusing on the social networks and leisure lifestyles of a particular group of working-class men - 'the lads' - Tony Blackshaw argues that traditional social collectivities such as class are being superseded. Instead, leisure life is now the central arena in which individuals assert their identities and confirm their belonging. For 'the lads', leisure time is the pivotal point in a fragmented life which not only allows them to fashion some sense of order in a world of endemic disorder but also provides opportunities for the assertion of their masculinity. The book uniquely combines 'the lads'' own raw and compelling accounts of their leisure experiences with a sophisticated interpretive analysis. In doing so, it draws on the work of major theorists such as Baudrillard, Derrida, Foucault, and especially Bauman to develop new critical insights into our understanding of the meaning of leisure. Leisure Life awakens the sociological imagination. It offers a new approach to the study of masculinity and the ethnography of leisure, making it appropriate for courses in sociology, leisure, cultural and gender studies.

Excerpt

This book is about the consequences of living in the individualised society (Bauman, 2001a). The theme that sets the backdrop against which this predicament is explored is leisure-specifically, the salience of leisure for working-class men. The book is about the distinctive leisure lifestyles and the sense of belonging associated with a particular group of working-class men that I am calling the leisure life-world of 'the lads'. Three aspects of this leisure life-world loom large in this analysis: myth, masculinity and modernity. In exploring these three themes, the book focuses on the extent to which these 'lads' collectively seek to preserve existing lifestyles and conceptions of self-identity and community. It shows that 'the lads'' leisure is key, as it provides them with the time and space for the making and the articulation of a spurious sense of belonging and certainty.

The book sews together ethnography, social history, personal history and autobiography to show that a particular form of working-class masculine behaviour is the key way of expressing the norms and values of the discourse of this life-world, which provides a form of ontological security for resisting the cultural and material practices of recent gender change. The central argument that runs as a thread throughout the book is that leisure is salient for 'the lads', because it provides the means by which they can challenge and undermine the vicissitudes of a contemporary liquid modernity (Bauman, 2000a) where it is no longer sufficient, socially, culturally, politically or economically, to be a 'traditional' working-class man.

Today we live in a world where working-class men, in particular, have been forced to renegotiate their conceptions of masculinity as socially constructed phenomena. However, it is the argument of this book that, contrary to this deconstruction of a particular form of hegemonic masculinity, when each of the men in this study makes his leisure with 'the lads' the centre of his attention, life appears still to be of a more 'solid' and certain kind. Given what each of 'the lads' wants-diversion, escape, excitement, combined with a sense of love, comradeship and community without any harsh demands on their commitment-I show that they are extremely well served by the vicissitudes of this leisure life-world. The conclusions emerging from this

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