The art of wasting time: sociability, friendship, community and holidays

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Leisure Studies, 2017, 36 (1), pp. 1 - 20
Issue Date:
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© 2015 Taylor & Francis. Slow tourism is motivated by the desire for personal and communal well-being. It emerged as an antidote to the fast-paced imperatives of global capitalism that urge the entrepreneurial self to speed up and work harder to achieve and demonstrate desired social status. The entrepreneurial self can be understood in the contexts of neoliberalism and the class- and gender-based histories of time-thrift and rational recreation; the entrepreneurial self uses leisure time purposively in the pursuit of status, avoids idle pursuits and has restricted capacity to experience leisurely social relationships. In this article, it is argued that leisurely social relations can be reclaimed by letting go, even temporarily, of time-thrift and the compulsion to use leisure time purposively. Data drawn from in-depth interviews with repeat visitors at two Australian caravan parks revealed that for the period of their holiday the tourists relax, refuse to be driven by schedules, socialise with other tourists and feel no compulsion to use time purposively. The key reasons the tourists return to the parks each year were for the friendships and the sense of community they experience as part of the holiday. Slow tourism by its very nature rejects time-thrift, however, as the movement is harnessed by global capitalism, slow tourism risks becoming a source of conspicuous consumption. The findings of this study suggest that friendship and community thrive more readily in conditions where the need to achieve and demonstrate social status is discarded along with time-thrift.
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