What does geography do for us?

By David Crouch
University of Derby

What does geography do for us? A generation or two ago, it told us where, how big and when this or that site could be found. It taught us the distance between here and there. Space was distance between. Thee bitty things, fragments of facts and little understanding had some curious heritage: expeditions for exploitation, defence but equally attack. In the years before and during the second world war the excitement was focused on the ‘best’ sic use of resources for building the Nazis’ brave new world: cost efficiencies like this war vital in locating gas chambers and so on. Fellow traveller Christaller had been a major influence at the time, and in the decades that followed, became a core text, eagerly grasped by the seventies’ work on location analysis. In all of this ‘heritage’ there was little sign of human beings, only their resources. Of course, efficiency became a shared value across divergent cultures and politics during the second world war in particular, and in its aftermath, crucial times to make the best of vanishing energies and resources, that could then be put humanely to better use, yet still often more in statistical terms, increasingly the only approach to human dimensions; human life, lived experience all but deleted from human geography, yet life happens here and there, whatever happens.

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Leisure Reflections No 45: Being a Politician in a Democracy: No Work like It

By Bob Stebbins. University of Calgary

stebbins@ucalgary.ca
Website (personal): http://soci.ucalgary.ca/profiles/robert-stebbins
Website (Perspective): www.seriousleisure.net

As a sociologist with a long-standing interest in work and leisure, I have wondered from time to time how to describe high-level politicians at work in democratic societies. Fresh off my initial study of amateurs in the mid-1970s, I became intrigued with James Q. Wilson’s The Amateur Democrat when it first came to my attention. Since I planned additional research across the range of amateurism, why not study this manifestation of it? I mentioned my intentions to a colleague in political science, who very quickly responded with a snort: “there is no such thing!” (as an amateur politician).

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Open Thinking

By Professor David Crouch
University of Derby

The notion that we are in a post-disciplinary world has enjoyed an increasing hearing in recent years. It matters for leisure studies because it both offers opportunities and also enormous complexity. In ways, as a sub-discipline [an unappealing terms- perhaps ‘multi-discipline[d] is apposite], leisure studies has long drawn upon a clutch of disciplinary perspectives and approaches, and increasingly done so, most notably in its early days, sociology, but now across geographies, psychology and much more.

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Leisure Reflections No 44: The Role of History in Leisure Studies

 

By Bob Stebbins. University of Calgary

stebbins@ucalgary.ca
Website (personal): http://soci.ucalgary.ca/profiles/robert-stebbins
Website (Perspective): www.seriousleisure.net

History figures in the study of leisure in at least three crucial ways: as general history, history of leisure provision, and activity-specific history. Over the years I have remarked sporadically on all three, and with this article, am now attempting to elucidate more systematically the role of each type. Let me be clear from the outset that I am not privileging one or the other. In many instances a complete explanation of leisure rests on two or three of these histories.

General History

The general histories track and explain the emergence and change of leisure as an institution or segment of that institution such as sport or the hobbies. These histories explain leisure in macro-contextual terms; they present a big chronological picture of leisure. Below are some highlights, showing together a number of the crucial developments leading up to today’s leisure institution as experienced in the West. My object is to provide a sense of the general of history sufficiently clear to set it off from its leisure provision and activity-specific counterparts. Many excellent general histories have been written over the years (e.g., Sylvester, 1999; Spracklen, 2011; Goodale & Godbey, 1988), obviating here the need to go into further detail. The general history also includes discussions of the various leisure trends, some of which I have recently reviewed (Stebbins, 2017, Chap. 8).

Viewed from the standpoint of work and leisure, much of the history of mankind has been about subsistence as a livelihood, with free-time activity taking place in the comparatively few hours left over after seeing to life’s basic needs. Hunting, fishing, and gathering food; raising and harvesting crops; and moving to new land that facilitates all of these, along with defending against enemies, human and animal, occupy a lot of time in a pre-industrial society. But life on this subsistence level must necessarily include a few hours off for games, dancing, music, relaxation, sexual activity, casual conversation, and the like. Hamilton-Smith (2003, pp. 225-226) wrote that archaeological findings on this sort of leisure gathered from artifacts, living sites, cave painting, and so on date as far back as the prehistoric cultures.

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Just a walk with the dog?

Reproduced from The Conversation
By Louise Platt (Manchester Metropolitan University) and Thomas Fletcher (Leeds Beckett University)

Dogs love “walkies”. And unless it’s pouring with rain and blowing a gale, so do their owners. But there’s much more to this daily routine than you might think. In fact, it’s actually a complex process of negotiation, which reveals a great deal about our relationship with man’s best friend.

In many ways, the walk reflects the historical social order of human domination and animal submission. But research suggests that it also allows humans and dogs to negotiate their power within the relationship. In fact, our recent study found that the daily dog walk involves complex negotiation at almost every stage.

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