Individuals in contemporary society

8 August 2016

There is great debate about how individuals have choice over their leisure activities. I for one believe that it depends greatly on personal preference for the leisure activities we partake in. Yet class or social status can also have a slight influence upon these factors. Postmodernists, such as Lyotard (1984), believe that the boundaries between social class and leisure have become blurred, therefore clear links between class and leisure activities no longer exist.

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As a consequence of this, Postmodernists say that regardless of the social class we are a part of, we all have the ability to ‘Pick and Choose’ how we spend our leisure time. Yet surely the leisure activities that we take part in cannot purely be down to our interests. Those who are in working class, may not be able to afford the luxuries of leisure that those in upper or middle class can take part in. Therefore there are social constraints upon our leisure activities. Marxists disagree with the postmodernist theory.

They believe that occupation or social class influences the leisure activities that we can choose. Marxists such as Parker believe in the idea of Intrinsic and Extrinsic Rewards. For example the manual Working Class jobs are done for extrinsic rewards, those that provide an escape from work, whereas middle class or white collar jobs provide more intrinsic rewards, those that allow leisure activity to link with work. Parkers theory also has valid points, but he over-emphasizes the importance that work has in shaping our leisure activity.

His research is also something that is not generalisable, because it is focused primarily on men in full time paid employment. Two other Marxists, Clarke and Critcher (1995) point out that leisure has now become a commercialized multinational industry that is also highly organised. The fact that we now live in a media-saturated society creates a high demand for ‘must-have’ products, meaning that choice over leisure pursuits is constantly being taken away from individuals.

This is because of the medias ideological power which is controlled by the bourgeoisie. I believe that both these beliefs or theories are valid arguments about the extent of choice we have in our leisure activities. Due to our interests and hobbies, people partake in leisure activities that they enjoy. Yet class constrains our ability to choose specific leisure activities because of the cost of some of these and the type of rewards that we prefer whether they are intrinsic or extrinsic rewards.

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