Karl SpracklenWhiteness and Leisure

Palgrave Macmillan, 2013

by Dave O'Brien on September 12, 2014

Karl Spracklen

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[Cross-posted from New Books in Critical Theory] Our taken for granted assumptions are questioned in a new book by Karl Spracklen, a professor of leisure studies at Leeds Metropolitan University in England. Whiteness and Leisure (Palgrave, 2013) combines two bodies of theoretical literature to interrogate leisure activities which seem innocuous or inoffensive. The book deploys insights from critical race theory along with the work of Jurgen Habermas to at once critique leisure as a site for the continued reproduction of inequality, but at the same time consider the utopian or transformative possibilities offered by leisure activity. The central inequality concerning Whiteness and Leisure is that of the socially constructed, but socially powerful, idea of race. Spracklen argues that whilst there is no scientific evidence for the vast swathes of claims made about race, the idea is influential in modern life. Most notably, ideas of race create categories of normal or taken for granted, in the case of whiteness, and other, exotic and different in the case of blackness. The replication of social inequality using categories of race is shown in discussions of sport, both participating and watching, of popular culture, such as Harry Potter  and World of Warcraft, Music, including Folk and Metal, and forms of travel, tourism and outdoor experience. Drawing on a wide range of literature, empirical examples and personal anecdotes, the text will be of interest to readers from across both social science and the humanities, as well as anyone concerned with social justice.

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