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ISSN 0869-5377
Author: Lebedeva Natalia

Lebedeva Natalia

Junior Research Fellow, Center for Sociological Research,
Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration
(RANEPA), 84 Vernadskogo ave., 119571 Moscow, Russia.


Why Has the Critique of the Leisure Class Run out of Steam? Matters of Fact and Matters of Concern / Logos. 2019. № 1 (128). P. 27-51
annotation:  The article analyzes the conceptual and historical prerequisites for the transition from the classical theory of leisure to modern leisure studies. Its central question is what “matters of fact” and “matters of concern” have had the greatest impact on the formation of the new research agenda. The first part of the article reconstructs Veblen’s conceptualization of the leisure class, which is associated with extensive free time, specific types of leisure, demonstrative consumption of the output from productive work, and the elevated socio-economic status that a particular group attains by following the conventions of a “prestigious” lifestyle. It is argued that the focus on stable, reproducible patterns of behavior in the upper class neglected the distinction between newer leisure practices, as well as the stratified diffusion of leisure time. The author describes three exogenous factors that have undercut the traditional understanding of leisure in the social sciences: the transformation of the temporal structure of work and leisure as a result of the broad penetration of digital technologies; the blurring of the boundaries between workspaces and recreational areas; and the transformation of the resources for economic interactions and of the system for conversion to various types of capital in the labor market. Changes in the basic criteria for a leisure lifestyle have exposed problems with Veblen’s intuitions and have led to the emergence of new disciplinary coalitions. In conclusion, the article deals with the problem of how to describe the modern leisure class. This is a question of whether the emergence of alternative leisure practices provides a sufficient basis for the identification of new leisure groups and of what would constitute a necessary condition for revamping the sociology of leisure.
Keywords:  leisure class; conspicuous consumption; socio-economic status; leisure; workspace; digital technology.
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