New book defines the digital leisure era
In his book, ‘Digital Leisure, the Internet and Popular Culture’, Karl Spracklen, Professor of Leisure Studies, examines the growth and importance of the internet in shaping the meaning and purpose of leisure and popular culture, looking at whether or not digital leisure spaces and activities are just like any other forms of leisure.
Professor Spracklen considers a range of issues from social media and file-sharing, to commodification and romance on the Internet, presenting new theories on digital leisure.
Professor Spracklen commented: “The internet can be defined as a leisure space as people invest so much of their time using it as leisure: at work or in their free time. Social media is a clear example of the kind of internet spaces used as digital leisure, where people manage and create identities and networks of belonging.
“In my book, I explore social media, subcultural belonging, downloading and streaming, gaming and gambling, and romance and pornography. I address the topic of digital leisure: leisure that is enabled through the internet. Some of this is associated with the idea of communicative action: the idea that we have the freedom to make meaning for ourselves through our agency. But of course a large element of the internet is controlled by corporations, and increasingly by governments as well.
“Digital leisure is changing the way we find identity, communication and satisfaction because it is much quicker to find the thing or people or product we think we need to feel belonging or satisfaction. Being a punk before the internet involved reading books and magazines and fanzines, trading tapes and attending gigs – it was hard work. The internet now means a would-be punk can stream all the music they want and read up on Wikipedia on the history and style of punk – this is quicker, of course.”
Exploring the ways in which other academics have approached the internet as a leisure space, and the ways in which people use the internet for leisure, Professor Spracklen argues that the internet is just another leisure space, part of our everyday lives, and should not be caricatured as something that is essentially good or bad for society.
‘Digital Leisure, the Internet and Popular Culture’ is published by Palgrave and forms part of the ‘Leisure Studies in a Global Era’ series, of which Professor Spracklen is a series co-editor.