Leisure and Consumption
STEPHEN L. WEARING
University of Technology, Sydney, Australia
Assumption University, Thailand
Leisure and consumption have always been intimately linked, in the same way as work and production are. During the industrial Protestant era, consumption and leisure were seen as indulgent, decadent, feminine pursuits not worthy of serious intellectual analysis. One reason for this was that production, commerce, and industry were embodied in the concept of work, emphasized by the dominant culture of the time as central to the development of good character. Consumption, however, was seen as an inconsequential activity engaged in during one's leisure time.
These circumstances have since been reversed so that the dominant culture in Western societies now revolves around consumption as opposed to production. The shift from a “producer society” to a “consumer society” has meant that work and the work ethic have now been subsumed by leisure and the construction of lifestyle, both of which have become key to the formation of self-identity (Bauman 2005, 23–42). Evidence for this can be seen in the falling away of the “heroes of production” – the “self-made men,” corporate founders, pioneers, explorers, and colonizers – to the “heroes of consumption” – film, music, and sporting stars – whose excessive expenditure, luxurious lifestyles, and narcissism are exalted in the mass media (Baudrillard 1970/1998, 45–46). As a ...