Editor's Choice - Beccy Watson Leisure Studies

Leisure Studies

Beccy Watson, January 2016

This ‘virtual special issue’ reflects my tenure as a co-Managing Editor of Leisure Studies between 2007 and 2014 that stretches across Volumes 26 to 33. It is no easy task because looking back I am reminded of the vast array of material to choose from, reflecting the multidisciplinary range of ‘all that is leisure studies’ as the Journal states. I have decided upon, for the most part, papers for which I was the main Managing Editor and also those that reflect my academic interests across gender, critical engagement with leisure ‘space’ and innovative methodologies.

For the most part the papers presented in my virtual special speak for themselves and need little introduction; that said, it is an Editor’s prerogative to say (at least a little) something about each.    

For me Taylor’s paper is a good example of how leisure is a dynamic and critical context – the paper is indicative of how empirical evidence that is attuned to the social construction of space and the embodied experiences of leisure, speaks volumes about the complexities of being and belonging  (or otherwise) in contemporary urban environments. The paper’s content, findings and implications complement an array of other cultural geography based studies and the development of Special Issues (Sexy Spaces, a Special Issue in Volume 30).

Atencio’s paper demonstrates the potential of in-depth, narrative based accounts of leisure and importantly, centres attention on leisure as embodied practice. This is addressed in many other ways across various papers published in the journal but this one is a particular favourite because of the attention to the intersections of gender and ‘race’ through the lens of dance.  

This paper encapsulates much about the potential of ‘leisure’ – as a highly significant context in which to ‘understand’ young people and place – and it goes beyond that, enticing us to consider how ‘research’, particularly that which is taken as inextricably linked to its participants as dynamically positioned ‘voices’, tells us a great deal about leisure as constitutive, negotiated and productive in the everyday lives of young people.  

I have selected Trussell’s paper from the Special Issue on Methodologies that I had the privilege of being Guest Editor for – her paper is a great illustration of how the journal enables important elements of ‘epistemological reflection’ – Trussell’s paper is testimony to much leisure scholarship that takes a critical social lens and really seeks to explore and account for this through a praxis approach whereby lived experience is highly valued, albeit challenging to interpret for researchers.  

The roller derby paper from Pavlidis is a fine example of how the changing nature of leisure, as activity, as experience, as identity, is captured and written about in the journal in ways that draw on for example, a critical feminist lens, that for me is a real strength, in terms of political commitment, and is something that the journal continues to attend to. 

I’ve selected my joint paper with Sheila Scraton because I think it resonates with the comments I have made about all the other papers thus far – leisure is a critical and dynamic context – the journal reflects consistent engagement with continuity and change both conceptually and empirically. 

Boyd’s paper appeared in print after I had formally ‘finished’ on the Leisure Studies Board. That said, where we ‘leave’ an academic role is not a neat ending on a particular day and so it resembles (another) aspect of continuity. I had been involved in the Editorship of her paper and to me it represents so much of what I touch on above - spaces, bodies, meanings and constituencies of leisure - and the thing that will continue to keep leisure scholars on their toes, that is, individual acts and what they represent and mean in the wider context of the ‘messiness’ of everyday life and how significant leisure is to making sense of that.