Ways of escape : modern transformations of leisure and travel
This thesis challenges the conventional assumptions that leisure and travel are associated with experience of freedom and escape. It argues that leisure behaviour has been shaped by programmes of moral regulation. The thesis argues that these programmes are deeply rooted. For comparative purposes, moral regulation in the middle ages and the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries are discussed. However, the main historical focus is on moral regulation in bourgeois society. It is argued that bourgeois culture sought to divide modern society into segments of experience: Private life was divided from public life, work from leisure, the female role from the male role, the bourgeois class from the working class, and so forth. The underlying aim behind these divisions was self realization. Through the `rational' bourgeois ordering of things it was hoped that the individual would maximize his or her capacities. Leisure and travel were part of the programme of self making. So far from being `free activities' they were self conscious activities geared to the aim of self realization. This thesis argues that there was a contradiction between the ambition of bourgeois culture which was to create a permanent rational order of things, and the action of modernity, which operated to neutralize or overturn bourgeois divisions. This contradiction is explored in the second chapter where the leisure of bourgeois women is discussed. The chapter attacks the feminist orthodoxy in the sociology of leisure which maintains that women's influence in leisure and travel is negligible. It examines the experience of bourgeois women in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It submits that modernity operated not merely to subordinate women but also to activate them. Examples of the influence of women in shaping the aesthetics of metropolitan culture are discussed to illustrate the point. The thesis maintains that modernity is still the essential context for understanding leisure and travel experience. Chapter three attempts to compare modernity and postmodernity. In chapters four and five examples of leisure and travel forms in the last twenty five years are discussed in order to test the fashionable postmodern proposition that we have now moved into a condition of postmodernity. The thesis closes with an attempt to drawn the main themes of the thesis together. It reassesses the contradiction between the ambition of bourgeois society and the action of modernity. It concludes that the debate on modernity and postmodernity does not suggest the emergence of a new social condition. Rather its main effect has been to help us to understand the action of modernity more clearly.