||Essentially a state of being, in which a range of activities are undertaken outside work time for the purposes of pleasure, entertainment, knowledge-improvement, and relaxation. Leisure is significantly interconnected with recreation and tourism. Definitions of leisure have been developed on three principal axes (Glyptis, 1993; Shaw and Williams, 1994). First, leisure is equated with time, representing the time remaining when sleeping, working and other \'obligations\' have been accounted for. The idea of \'leisure time\' is discursively common, yet intrinsically meaningless (Rojek, 1985) since enormous variations occur in the quality of residual time, and in the resources available to individuals during that time. Moreover, leisure is not simply a matter of spare time. For some social groups, for example unemployed and retired people, free time is often enforced rather than self-determined, and can be burdensome rather than leisurely.
In a second defining axis, leisure is equated with particular activities which result in \'palpable reward, be it enjoyment, rest and recuperation, diversion, excitement, companionship, escape, or mental recreation\' (Glyptis, 1993, pp. 3-4). Here, the overlap with recreation is strongest, and there is a temptation to reduce leisure to a list of measurable pursuits. However, to do so represents a false objectivity. For example in many surveys (see, for example, World Tourism Organization, 1983) eating meals is defined as biological time and therefore excluded from the category \'leisure\', whereas going out for a meal is commonly regarded as a leisurely pursuit. Equally, there are activities which will be pleasurable for some and hard work for others, such as shopping, gardening, DIY, walking, and watching particular kinds of television programme.
The third axis defines leisure in terms of the participant\'s attitude of mind. Accordingly, the essence of leisure is found in the meanings ascribed to times and activities rather than in the times and activities themselves. Thus any neat cataloguing of \'work\' and \'leisure\' needs to be deconstructed to account for the individual subjectivities associated with leisure. So, not only is one person\'s leisure another person\'s burden, but for some their work is a kind of hobby/leisure. It is not even possible to regard leisure as something which is always freely chosen and which results in satisfaction or enjoyment. \'Choices\' and \'satisfactions\' are both permitted and constrained by different living and lifestyle practices associated with social identities such as class, gender and age, all of which will blur any generalized models of activities which are thought to be freely entered into and personally satisfying.
Regardless of these definitional complexities, leisure will usually be a very significant domain of life, and geographies of leisure involve understandings not only of the changing nature of consumption of leisure but also of how changes in consumption have been connected to transformations in urban and rural environments in order to meet the need for new worlds of leisure (cf. consumption, geography of). There has been a general increase in the quantity of leisure time available to most people living in advanced industrial societies. From a position in the early twentieth century when the ability to engage in leisure was an esteemed position of the \'leisure classes\' who were conspicuously exempt from all useful employment, patterns of leisure have become much more complex, with the right to leisure at particular times in the week, or the year, now a presumed characteristic of modern citizenship (Urry, 1995). Indeed, leisure has become embroiled into more general assumptions about health and welfare in these societies. These assumptions have been operationalized in a steady shortening of the working week, and more recently in an increasing flexibility of work time in some sectors. However, there may be evidence that \'working hours\' have increased again in recent years, as participation in some office-based service sectors has necessitated working until the task is completed rather than working to fixed time regimes. Flexibility, then, could work both ways and does not automatically lead to an increase in leisure time away from work. Other factors in the increasing importance of leisure include improved levels of personal income mobility (for some), and improved mechanization of household chores through washing machines, dishwashers and so on (again, for some).
The consumption of leisure in contemporary western societies is also rendered complex by the shifting nature of culture, Identity and consumption in postmodern times. Featherstone (1991) suggests that postmodernism has brought with it a more visual and aesthetic culture which is appreciated in a more everyday and informal manner. Traditionally fixed identities have generally become more open and fluid, and traditionally deeply held and substantive self-identities have become more superficial and one-dimensional. Thus it is argued that \'there is no self beyond appearances, beyond the playful adopting and discarding of multiple life-styles and fashions\' (Urry, 1995, p. 216).
Two important trends in leisure interconnect with this superficiality and fragmentation in postmodern consumption. First, leisure has become increasingly privatized. During the 1980s and 1990s more time than ever has been spent at home, with an ever-expanding range of virtual pursuits being accessible through the sound system, television, video and personal computer. Participation has declined in most forms of out-of-home leisure which can be replicated or closely substituted by in-home entertainment (Roberts, 1989). Indeed much of the production of leisure spectacles (for example in sport, film and music) will be directed at, and funded by, the potential for home-consumption. Secondly, there has been a growth in the commercialization of leisure industries, with very large companies such as Rank and Grand Metropolitan providing for leisure activities across the social spectrum. Commercialization has involved a commodification of heritage, culture, sport, and other leisure foci, both in terms of providing pay-as-you-enter attractions, and in terms of designing and branding clothing, equipment and other paraphernalia which needs to be purchased so that the consumer can be identified with the leisure pursuit in question. Indeed, shopping itself has become the major leisure preoccupation of contemporary western society (Miller et al., 1998; cf. retailing, geography of).
Postmodern consumption, then, has developed a \'cultural desire\' for particular forms and identities of leisure, and indeed for particular kinds of culturally desirable spaces in cities and countrysides. Urry (1995) describes three factors of cultural desirability in townscapes and landscapes: the availability of sites/sights to visit, often involving new forms of capital and organization in specific geographical locations; the visibility of appropriately aesthetic styles of vernacular architecture or of countryside landscapes, often involving specific place promotions which appeal to these cultural desires; and the cultural legitimization of desirable leisure activities, for example the use of literary and artistic figures to render certain countryside (for example Hardy Country, Herriot Country) as tasteful.
Contemporary leisure draws heavily on these cultural desirabilities, with the consumption of signs, or the symbolic aspects of goods becoming a major source of satisfaction derived from leisure. Thus, in urban contexts there is an increasing salience of leisure consumption which focuses on the consuming of experiences and pleasure (notably in these parks, and leisure centres). There is also a move towards recreating traditionally high forms of cultural consumption (such as museums and galleries) into more accessible and enjoyable attractions, emphasizing spectacle, populism and entertainment (cf. spectacle, geography of). There is also the growing dominance of these high temples of urban leisure consumption, the shopping malls. In rural contexts, too, themed attractions have become important foci for cultural consumption of heritage, nature and sheer entertainment (Cloke, 1993). Moreover, traditional leisure pursuits such as driving, walking, picnicking and sightseeing have been supplemented by new activities which add a sense of purposeful entertainment, or technological equipment, such as in mountain-biking, off-road vehicle driving, survival and endurance sports and windsurfing.
As is the case with tourism, contemporary geographies of leisure have profited from the conceptual understandings emanating from sociology and cultural studies. However, the importance of new and transformed leisure spaces in both urban and rural environments leaves many questions unanswered about how those spaces are (re)constructed and given meaning. Equally, there remain important concerns relating to the inequalities of access to privatized and commercialized leisure, which result in the geography of leisure being an important, and often underestimated component in issues of social exclusion.Â (PJC)
References Butler, R. 1998: Rural recreation and tourism. In B. Ilbery, ed., The geography of rural change. Harlow: Longman, 211-32.Â Cloke, P. 1993: The countryside as commodity: new spaces for rural leisure. In S. Glyptis, ed., Leisure and the environment. London: Belhaven, 53-70.Â Featherstone, M. 1991: Consumer culture and postmodernism. London: Sage.Â Glyptis, S., ed., 1993: Leisure and the environment. London: Belhaven.Â Miller, D., Jackson, P., Thrift, N., Holbrook, B. and Rowlands, M. 1998: Shopping, place and identity. London: Routledge.Â Roberts, K. 1989: Great Britain: socio-economic polarization and the implications for leisure. In A. Olszewska and K. Roberts, eds, Leisure and life-style. London: Sage.Â Rojek, C. 1985: Capitalism and leisure theory. London: Tavistock; Shaw, G. and Williams, A.M. 1994: Critical issues in tourism: a geographical perspective. Oxford: Blackwell.Â Urry, J. 1995: Consuming places. London: Routledge.Â World Tourism Organization 1983: Development of leisure time and the right to holidays. Madrid: World Tourism Organization.
Suggested Reading Rojek, C. 1995: Decentring leisure, rethinking leisure, theory. London: Sage.Â Urry, J. 1990: The tourist gaze: leisure and travel in contemporary societies. London: Sage.