LSA EXEC ‘top picks’ from Leisure Studies: Spencer Swain

Apologies for missing last month’s top picks! Marking season got the better of me but we are back in action with the picks from our secretary, Spencer Swain!

Let me start by saying how difficult it has been to narrow down my three picks for this blog edition. The Leisure Studies Journal has numerous articles that have inspired me to think more critically about leisure over the years. Therefore, the three papers that I have selected are only a microcosm of the fantastic research and scholarly insight that has been and continues to take place in the journal and the broader field in general.

My first pick is one that has only recently caught my attention, despite it being published over a decade and a half ago. The article, titled ‘Changing Policy Priorities for Sport in England: The Emergence of Elite Sport Development as a Policy Concern’ (vol 23: 4), is written by Mick Green. At its core, the paper charts the changing policy priorities for sports provision in the UK. What is interesting about this paper is that it unpacks the changing dynamics of government thought in relation to sports policy, narrating the shift from community sport towards the mantra of using elite sport and international success as a way of inspiring ordinary men and women to be more physically active. Green’s insight provides a fascinating glimpse into the contours of political thought in this area, and a warning as to the future policy failures of creating a sustainable legacy from the London 2012 Olympics.

Second, I have picked a paper that has had a considerable influence on my scholarship and interpretation of how leisure shapes our everyday lives. The title of this paper is ‘Nazi Punks Folk Off: Leisure, Nationalism, Cultural Identity and the Consumption of Metal and Folk Music‘ (vol 32:4), written by Karl Spracklen. Its central theme is on folk/metal music and its appropriation by members of the far right to enlist members through appealing to absolutist notions of nationalism. What I find interesting about the paper is its insight into the role of leisure in forging sites of cultural identity. Something which helps highlight leisure’s prominent role as a site for sociological enquiry, while also exposing its dangerous side, particularly in how leisure cultures can be used to elicit division, hatred and fear.

Finally, I would like to mention the following article ‘It Made Me Feel Powerful: Womens Gendered Embodiment and Physical Empowerment in the Martial Arts‘ (vol 32: 5) written by Philipa Velija, Mark Mierzwinski, and Laura Fortune. Not only is the topic of this article original, but it also provides a captivating insight into how those who participate in martial arts experience embodiment. In the last year, I have enjoyed debating the findings of this article with undergraduate students, using it to develop their sociological imagination around the relationship between sport and the body.

I hope you enjoy these three articles which all highlight the broad and intellectually stimulating work going on in leisure studies.


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