Reclaiming the ‘L’ word: Leisure Studies and UK Higher Education in neoliberal times

Thomas Fletcher, Sandro Carnicelli, Stefan Lawrence, Robert Snape

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13 Citations (Scopus)
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Leisure is a major sphere of both private and public life. It is thus of concern that the identity and profile of Leisure Studies in the Higher Education curricula of the United Kingdom have declined in prominence over the past decade. This trend is not peculiar to Leisure Studies; the social sciences as a whole are threatened by a neoliberal economic discourse which increasingly informs Higher Education strategic management. The aim of this article is to investigate the impacts of the declining status of Leisure Studies as experienced by lecturers and researchers in the subject field. It is based upon a project commissioned by the Higher Education Academy in 2015. It was found that Leisure Studies faces two principal challenges. The first is to re-establish its status as a subject field within the social sciences, the second is to ensure it retains a relevance to leisure practice, particularly in terms of the management of its provision. The article proposes greater academic engagement in ideational ‘border crossings’ to advance thinking on leisure in the social sciences and to explore opportunities for collaboration within them. We conclude that Leisure Studies arguably suffers from a crisis of representation, as opposed to a crisis of relevance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-304
JournalLeisure Studies
Issue number2
Early online date30 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2017


  • leisure
  • higher education
  • neoliberalism


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