LSA Exec: Top Picks Series Continues!

After a short break we are back with Dr. Paul Gilchrist’s top picks from the Leisure Studies Jounral. The articles from Paul’s choice have been made open access until the end of April! Enjoy!


My Leisure Studies ‘top picks’ come from three articles with a strong geographic flavour. This was not an easy task, but I wanted to select articles that I’ve used extensively in my research or in my thinking about the political and legal shaping of leisure spaces. I’ve employed all three at some point in my Geographies of Sport and Leisure module at the University of Brighton and students have enjoyed reading the texts.

My first pick is ‘Urgent Dreams: Climbing, Rationalization and Ambivalence’(vol 13:3), written by Ian Heywood. This is one of a handful of papers that have been published in the journal that have investigated the sociology of climbing cultures. The paper blends a critical analysis of the British climbing scene with a theorisation of the meanings of climbing to late-modern cultural life. Heywood is intellectually promiscuous, referencing Giddens, Beck, Habermas, Nietzsche and Weber, among others, and ‘Urgent Dreams’ continues to provoke thoughts about how to represent the forms of escape and resistance, control and fear, evident in the evolution of the sport. It has become a go-to piece for cultural geographers interested in the production of climbing space and the making of the climber.

My second comes from Planning Studies and is Gavin Parker’s ‘The Negotiation of Leisure Citizenship: Leisure Constraints, Moral Regulation and the Mediation of Rural Place’(vol 26:1). Parker examines the contested cultural politics of the Countryside Code in England and shows how it is contingent upon the interplay between different rural interests. What is striking is how a complex analysis can be conjured through a studied interrogation of an ephemeral artefact. It reveals important constraints to leisure present in the countryside. Parker deftly opens out the significance of the Code to the theorisation of conduct, morality and responsibility established in Michel Foucault’s work on governmentality. The article is an important reminder that regulation and restriction is a longstanding aspect of the development of leisure, even in the bourgeois world of rural rambling.

The British city is the location for my final choice. Phil Hubbard’s ‘Carnage! Coming to a Town Near You? Nightlife, Uncivilized Behaviour and the Carnivalesque Body’(vol 32:3) exposes a Rabelaisian culture of excess, which only comes to the attention of the humble lecturer when we see the bleary-eyed ‘survivors’ who manage to make it to the lecture theatre. Not only does Hubbard place centre stage the student as a key figure in the transformation of urban leisure spaces, entertainment and cultures of consumption, but he carries forward important discussions about respectability and desirable public behaviours and the ways in which they are classed, sexed and gendered. The antics reported in the article are also highly relevant for researchers interested in the fine line between culturally-sanctioned alcohol consumption and anti-social behaviour. For leisure scholars drawn to the world of transgression, incivility, the grotesque, ill-disciplined, and unconstrained, Hubbard’s piece offers plenty to think about for how we understand (student) bodies within the contemporary formation of liminal leisure cultures and spaces.

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