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Assess the Postmodernist view that we are free to adopt any identity through our leisure choices (24 marks) A postmodernist perspective sees the boundaries between social class and leisure have become blurred. This is because, regardless of our social class, we can all pick and choose how we spend our leisure time. Postmodernists have an optimistic view about everyone having the ability to express their identity through their activity as consumers.
However, it is important to recognise that while most people can afford a range of leisure activities such as holiday, income does limit our choices in leisure and consumption. We can all visit the same shops, but some can afford more choices than others; some leisure activities are not accessible to all. A postmodernist researcher called Baudrillard says we live in a media saturated society – in a globalised popular culture the mass media presents us with massive choice of leisure, lifestyle, images and identities drawn from across the world.
Others like Lyotard (1984) argue metanarratives (an explanation for everything that happens in a society) no longer explain the identities people adopt. Rojeck (1995) and Roberts (1978, 1986) believe leisure and consumption are far more important in shaping our identities than our social position Bocock (2004) asserts that people are not shopping for products they are shopping for lifestyles. However, Marxist like Bourdieu (1971) consider that people’s choices influenced by how much cultural capital they have (how much cultural capital has in turn influences their life chances – work, money, inclusion)
Parker (1971, 1976) How much money earned, working conditions, working hours, pensions all decide a person’s status and amount of money and time people have to spend on leisure and consumption Some criticisms on Parker’s research are that Parker places too much emphasis is place on work – Only 60% of the population over 16 are in employment and Parker’s research is focused primarily on men, which makes his research not generalizable to the overall population for both men and women.
Feminists believe in gender inequality (pay, domestic responsibilities), Patriarchal control, Gender socialisation (men don’t like shopping, women do play football) Despite this there are many examples today where women and men have more freedom to choose which leisure patterns (metrosexuals / ladettes). 100 years ago a women’s life was very predictable today it is hard to predict the course of a women’s life as more opportunity and independence has been achieved.
Although, Marxist argue that even those who are not restricted by money ethnicity, age or gender are still not making free choices. Clarke and Critcher (1995) point out that leisure has become highly organised and commercialised multinational industry large corporations shape and manipulate people’s choices of leisure activities and shopping habits Advertising convinces people that their identity depends on buying into the very latest and ever changing lifestyle trends so that large businesses can make huge profits.