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Leeds Beckett hosts internationally-acclaimed leisure conference


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An internationally-acclaimed conference which aims to foster research, promote interest and advance education in Leisure Studies, has been hosted by Leeds Beckett University.

Leeds Beckett hosts internationally-acclaimed leisure conference

The annual Leisure Studies Association (LSA) Conference brought together academics, students, practitioners, policy makers and professionals who work within leisure, sports, tourism and events to discuss and exchange ideas on contemporary leisure issues. 

The conference explored the social role of leisure processes in an everyday context and its theme was ‘enacting leisure, re-creating leisure’. Speakers and workshops sought to address the question, ‘What can leisure research on identities, lifestyles and play reveal about social relations, inequalities, power and privilege?’

LSA conference keynote speakers

This year, the conference took place at Leeds Beckett’s city centre Rose Bowl building, from Tuesday 4 to Thursday 6 July.

Dr Thomas Fletcher, Senior Lecturer in the School of Events, Tourism and Hospitality Management at Leeds Beckett, explained: "We were delighted that Leeds Beckett once again hosted the Leisure Studies Association Conference.  The University has a long history and strong reputation in the field of Leisure Studies; with many of those responsible for the development of Leisure Studies over the years being based here. Our theme of 'enacting leisure, re-creating leisure' was truly multi-disciplinary, and attracted attendees from a range of fields and interests, both nationally and internationally.” 

A participatory keynote panel, made up of Simone Fullagar, Professor of Physical Cultural Studies at the University of Bath, Jane Ashworth OBE, Chief Executive of StreetGames, and Halima Khan, Founder and Managing Director of Opening Boundaries, focused on issues of women and girls’ leisure.

LSA conference keynote speakers

Joining them as keynote speakers were: Sarah Neal, Professor of Sociology at the University of Sheffield; Kevin Hannam, Professor of Tourism Mobilities at Edinburgh Napier University; and Dr Kehinde Andrews, Associate Professor of Sociology at Birmingham City University. 

Dr Fletcher added: “Leisure is a fundamental part of human culture, contributing to both personal health and the maintenance of social life.  However, it is greatly contested, constrained and constructed.  The conference allowed people within the subject field, and those looking at leisure from other subject fields, to re-claim leisure as a subject of thinking, theorising, researching and doing.”

LSA conference keynote speakers

The conference also saw the launch of a new book, Sport, Leisure and Social Justice, edited by Professor Jonathan Long, Dr Thomas Fletcher and Dr Rebecca Watson, all from the Centre for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Leeds Beckett. 

The book tackles the way in which social inequalities in wider society are often reproduced in sport and leisure contexts, showing how sport and leisure can be sites of resistance and positive social change as well as oppression.

LSA conference keynote speakers

Professor Jonathan Long, who is one of the founding editors of the LSA’s journal, Leisure Studies, said: “The book is a timely contribution to a subject of great current interest.  It is a showcase for the work of the Centre for Diversity, Equity and inclusion at Leeds Beckett, featuring 27 contributors.  Most people probably wouldn’t immediately think of sport and leisure when considering issues of social justice, but this collection demonstrates time and time again the importance of addressing social justice within and through sport and leisure.  It also identifies potential contributions of sport and leisure to social justice while offering a critical challenge to some of the exaggerated claims made by sports enthusiasts.” 

Chapters within Sport, Leisure and Social Justice cover topics including: the politics of leisure; Muslim women’s experiences of sport and physical activity in the UK; Black women and Black voices; lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people’s experiences of PE; disabled people in sport and leisure; and ethical reflections on mapping Whiteness, racism and the far-right.  

The book is the first in a new series, Critical Perspectives on Equality and Social Justice in Sport and Leisure, edited by Professor Kevin Hylton and Professor Long and published by Routledge.  

The aim of the new book series is to present studies that are not afraid to be critical in exploring and explaining issues of social justice and equality in sport and leisure.  

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