The Diverse Worlds of Unemployed Adults: Consequences for Leisure, Lifestyle, and Well-Being

The Diverse Worlds of Unemployed Adults: Consequences for Leisure, Lifestyle, and Well-Being

The Diverse Worlds of Unemployed Adults: Consequences for Leisure, Lifestyle, and Well-Being

The Diverse Worlds of Unemployed Adults: Consequences for Leisure, Lifestyle, and Well-Being


Multi-method research study shows why leisure activities are as important for the unemployed as they are for the employed. Can someone who is unemployed experience leisure, or does that seem like a contradiction in terms? If unemployed people can experience leisure, how might it mitigate the negative effects of unemployment? And what form, then, would that leisure take? The relationship between leisure and unemployment has not received the attention it merits, especially in North America. Because research on leisure and unemployment must cross over areas of study, as well as theoretical perspectives, it can often seem conflicting and inconclusive. Yet the need for an understanding of that relationship remains. This groundbreaking book addresses that need. Mark E. Havitz, Peter A. Morden, and Diane M. Samdahl describe the sometimes surprising results of their multi-method study of the effects of unemployment on leisure, lifestyle, and well-being within Canada, and integrate those results with literature collected worldwide into a comprehensive picture. Using in-depth interviews, quantitative experience sampling, and standardized questionnaire data, this fascinating book provides ample evidence that the lived experiences of the unemployed are incredibly diverse, and the need for leisure is as intense for them as for the employed. The authors also pinpoint changes in public policy and social service agency management at local, provincial, and federal levels that will better serve unemployed people and their dependents, and enable them to use leisure activities to improve their lives.


Nature herself, as has been often said, requires that we should
be able, not only to work well, but to use leisure well….

Both are required, but leisure is better than occupation
and is its end; and therefore the question must be asked, what
ought we to do when at leisure?
—Aristotle, Politics

Leisure is a widely studied phenomenon, critical to the quality of life for individuals and cultures, and central to the economic health of communities and nations. Leisure has been examined from a variety of theoretical perspectives with respect to demographic, life-stage, lifestyle, and economic circumstances. A substantial body of literature devoted to work-leisure relationships has developed (Haworth, 1997; Reid, 1995), wherein issues related to leisure and unemployment have been raised. That coverage notwithstanding and in spite of the accumulation of literature specifically focussing on unemployment, similar in-depth coverage is not available regarding leisure and unemployment. Exceptions include Glyptis’s (1989) book Leisure and Unemployment and Lobo’s (2002) Leisure, Family and Lifestyle: Unemployed Young People. Complicating issues further, reactions to unemployment at the personal level and the resulting implications for service delivery are culture- and country-specific; two of the above texts (Glyptis, 1989; Haworth, 1997) rely primarily on data and circumstance specific to the United Kingdom, whereas Lobo’s book focusses on Australia. The smaller body of North American research (see Pesavento Raymond & Havitz, 1995, for a summary) has focussed to some extent on the response, or lack thereof, from social services (including leisure services) to unemployed constituents (Havitz & Spigner, 1993; Smit & Reid, 1990) and on recreation participation patterns of people who are unemployed (Pesavento Raymond & Kelly, 1991; Reid, 1990).

Unemployment is a persistent feature of advanced industrial society, and the Canadian economy is no exception. Matters are complicated, though, by the cyclical nature of unemployment and the difficulty of predicting from one year to the next the scope of the problem.

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