Life and Leisure in the Time of the Plague
Professor Karl Spracklen of Leeds School of Social Sciences examines the importance of leisure in lockdown.
My long-standing research interest in the meaning and purpose of leisure – the history and the philosophy of leisure – gives me an insight into life under lockdown. Leisure is one of the things that makes us human. Leisure activities are key sites for the creation of community. Leisure activities can be good for our physical wellbeing, and they are certainly essential for our mental wellbeing. In an age where work has become less important as a place for identity-making, our leisure choices have provided crucial ways to connect with others and feel self-worth.
The pandemic has offered new forms of leisure for many. As I go on my daily run up and down the moor or through the woods, I see lots of people doing the same who I have never seen before. I see families walking and enjoying the first snowdrops emerging. But not everybody has or is able access to this free leisure space. The pandemic has wrecked the leisure and entertainment industry, taking away the sense of belonging people get in their amateur theatre, their mosh-pit or their coffee house. Yet this leisure saves lives as much as running does, so governments need to make sure it returns.
Karl Spracklen is a Professor of Sociology of Leisure and Culture based in the Leeds School of Social Sciences, and the Director of Research for Social Policy. He was previously a Professor of Leisure Studies here at Leeds Beckett University.