The public lecture, 'The Meaning and Purpose of Leisure Studies', discussed how attitudes have changed regarding leisure studies as an academic discipline.
Karl explained how we can understand and interpret the meaning and purpose of leisure, suggesting that although leisure is globalising, the extent of the postmodern turn has been overplayed. For everyone, even in the commodified West, leisure remains a place where late modern identities are defined and defended.
Professor Spracklen is widely published and his research interests range from social and cultural theory, whiteness, social identity and community in a range of leisure activities, from whisky tourism through to music and sport.
Speaking ahead of the lecture he said: "Leisure is fundamentally necessary for the human condition, I spend a large part of my working life convincing colleagues and students that there is more to leisure than sport. This lecture will unpack the meaning and purpose of leisure and demonstrate that leisure studies are not only relevant but necessary in a neo-liberal world."
Professor Spracklen is Chair of the Leisure Studies Association, Secretary of the International Society of Metal Music Studies and the co-convenor of the British Sociological Association's Alcohol Study Group. His latest book, Constructing Leisure: Historical and Philosophical Debates (Palgrave, 2011), is about the history and philosophy of leisure, exploring the meaning of leisure, from prehistory to alternative futures.
The book charts the idea of leisure from ancient history through to modern times and suggests that the Roman and Byzantine obsession with chariot-racing has many parallels to how professional football clubs operate today.
As Professor Spracklen explains: "The Romans and the Byzantines were great lovers of chariot-racing (big events staged in large stadia) with thousands of fans cheering on their favourite teams. There were four teams represented by different colours at the start of the Roman Empire, and each team had its dedicated supporters: the Roman Emperor Nero was a fan of the Greens, for example. The teams were like professional football clubs today, with rich sponsors, hooligan supporters and lots of built-in wealth. By the time of the Byzantine Empire, the Blues and the Greens were involved in politics, setting fashions and acting like street gangs, according to our limited sources."