The idea of ‘leisure’ is a familiar one, encompassing the arts, entertainment, countryside recreation, conservation and environmental interpretation, the media, sport and tourism. Uses of the term range in application from economic activity on an international scale to children’s play in local neighbourhoods. Leisure as a subject for serious study has arisen from fundamental changes in society since the 1950s. These have included greater affluence, increased alienation from work, earlier retirement, higher unemployment and greater mobility, and the recognition of gender constraints and inequities of participation in and provision for leisure as experienced by, for example, ethnic minority groups.
The study of leisure was stimulated also by the scale of investment ~ public and private ~ in leisure facilities. Accompanying growth in expenditure there has been an expansion of education and training in leisure and recreation disciplines. From the mid 1950s, manifestations of leisure have posed new challenges ~~ not just for consumers, but for the suppliers who have often appeared ill-equipped to respond to demands for leisure, or even to define the factors which fuel these changes and the issues which are vital to their outcome.
The Leisure Studies Association (LSA) was founded in 1975 in response to this wave of interest in leisure by an independent body of planners, researchers, policy-makers, administrators and practitioners who saw the need to address leisure issues for a broad range of academic disciplines and in industry, commerce and government. They observed the many ways in which leisure represents the state of society and the effects of social change.
The establishment of the LSA created an opportunity for practitioners and researchers to come together to exchange opinions and experience, disseminate information and establish areas for further enquiry in leisure studies areas. LSA’s audience includes workers in sociology, geography, psychology, economics, planning, architecture, ecological sciences, physical education, recreation management, the entertainment media, local and national government, tourism and the leisure industries.
Through its triannual LSA Newsletter, annual and international conferences, and through the publication of themed volumes arising from work presented at LSA conferences, the Association has improved communications between the disparate professional interests.
The LSA is the only body which addresses itself so widely in leisure. It has a UK and international membership of people with professional and personal interests in the study of leisure.