Is the Serious Leisure Perspective valid? Advancing the debate

By Tony Veal

In his recent ‘Leisure Reflections 47’ on the LSA blog and newsletter Robert Stebbins referred to a recent paper of mine on the Serious Leisure Perspective (SLP) in Leisure Sciences (Veal, 2016). He listed ‘four problems’ with the paper, which he had previously identified in a ‘rejoinder’ (Stebbins, 2016), but did not refer to my reply (Veal, 2017). My immediate reaction on seeing Stebbins’ comments was to consider drawing readers’ attention to my reply, together with a brief summary, which I offer below. However, I then thought it would be constructive to take the opportunity to progress the debate further, and that is the aim of the second part of this contribution. It should be noted that I am not concerned just with the concept of serious leisure, but with the SLP as a whole and the claims made for it.

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Steve Redhead: He Danced Critically, He Raved Off


By Guy Osborn, University of Westminster

Steve Redhead’s passing hit me hard. It was out of the blue, and I had not seen Steve for over 10 years, although we were in regular contact via Twitter, email and text. Slowly the sad circumstances unravelled and a great outpouring of positive recollections and anecdotes were shared via Twitter and elsewhere. A measure of his influence, and the affection and esteem he was held in can be gleaned by reviewing the timeline of his wife, Tara Brabazon when his passing was announced.

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Book announcement: Video Games as Culture

Video Games as Culture: Considering the Role and Importance of Video Games in Contemporary Society

We are pleased to share details of a new book by Daniel Muriel (lecturer in Leisure Studies at University of Deusto) & Garry Crawford (Prof of Cultural Sociology at University of Salford). Daniel will be attending the LSA 2018 conference and presenting work from this great new book. I will be emailing all LSA members a discount code in the April newsletter so please keep an eye out for that.

Video games are becoming culturally dominant. But what does their popularity say about our contemporary society? This book explores video game culture, but in doing so, utilizes video games as a lens through which to understand contemporary social life.

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LSA EXEC ‘top picks’ from Leisure Studies: Thomas Fletcher

This month or Chair, Tom Fletcher offers an insight into the papers published in Leisure Studies that have shaped his research. We hope that you are enjoying this series and it is inspiring you to have a think about your favourite papers in Leisure Studies!

My Top Picks are an excellent reflection of the trajectory of how my own interests and specialisms have developed since entering academia as a PhD student in 2007. My PhD examined issues of race and whiteness in the context of Yorkshire cricket.

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Report on BSA Leisure & Recreation Study Group Workshop, Friday 16th February

BSA Room, Imperial Wharf, London, 10.30am-4.30pm


By Alan Tomlinson, L&R Study Group Convenor

The group met from 10.30am-4.30pm, and after an opening discussion welcoming the reinvigoration of the Study Group and confirmation of a revised mailing list comprising 24 individuals from 18 universities/HEIs, framed too in the context of a discussion of the importance of leisure in the wider sociological agenda, three papers were presented on research relating leisure and leisure practices to aspects of the wellbeing field/debate.

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Leisure Reflections No. 47: The Serious Leisure Perspective: Past, Present, and Future

By Robert A. Stebbins.
University of Calgary
Website (personal):
Website (Perspective):

The serious leisure perspective (SLP) was launched in late 1973 anchored in the dualism of serious and casual leisure. These two terms are my own, but the distinction they denote has been discussed using different adjectives by, among others, de Grazia, (1962, pp. 332-336), Glasser (1970, pp. 190-192), Kaplan (1975, pp. 80, 183), and Kando (1980, p. 108). In a far more simplistic way than suggested now by the SLP, the first three leaned toward serious leisure as the ideal way for people in post-industrial society to spend their free time. The serious leisure perspective (introduced in Stebbins, 2007/2015) is the name for the theoretic framework that bridges and synthesizes three main forms of leisure, known as casual leisure,  project-based leisure, and the serious pursuits (i.e., serious leisure and devotee work).

A reasonably detailed history of the SLP up to approximately 2007 has been set out in Stebbins (2007/2015, Chap. 6).  A sketchier version of its history up to 2014 is available on The field has been advancing and appears destined to continue to advance along four lines: 1) empirically — new qualitative and quantitative studies of particular leisure activities; 2) theoretically — new concepts and reformulated versions of older ones; 3) methodologically — primarily new measures and scales; and 4) practically — extensions of the SLP into applied fields.

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