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In “Motivational Foundations of Leisure” by Seppo E. Iso-Ahola and “Pathways to the Creation of Meaning through Leisure-Like Activities in Global Contexts” by Yoshitaka Iwasaki, both authors struggle to distinguish leisure from other aspects of life. human. To this end, they are trying to describe the basic characteristics that identify something as leisure as opposed to something that is not leisure. However, the big problem for both is the elusive definition of “what is leisure”, since it is difficult to describe its characteristics if it is difficult to distinguish leisure from what is not leisure. This problem becomes even more difficult in modern society, in the sense that there is a kind of continuity between leisure and non-leisure, with many activities that seem like a mixture of the two.

For example, a part-time entrepreneur who establishes a party planning business is participating in an economic activity, but it is also fun for her (usually the entrepreneur is a woman), and could see the organization of sales parties as a parallel company. to something she considers work. So maybe this business starts out as a leisure activity, but as she earns more and more money, she may spend more and more time throwing parties to build a serious business. Therefore, at some point, the celebration of these fun parties may cease to be a leisure activity, but it can be difficult to know exactly when it occurs.

This same problem of distinguishing leisure and non-leisure is faced by both Iso-Ahola and Iwasaki when trying to discuss the characteristics of leisure, in the sense that many of these characteristics that they use to describe leisure may be true for non-leisure activities. recreational, commonly considered work. Iwasaki tries to get around this problem by calling the things that he characterizes as aspects of leisure as “leisure-like” activities and, in the same way, one could characterize what people normally call work as “work-like” activities, but this it’s really more of a semantic sleight of hand. Calling something “like leisure”, or “like work” for that matter, simply provides a nomenclature that is more confusing for identifying a part of human life that is difficult to define. In other words, using a fuzzy term to define what is considered an elusive and difficult-to-define quality simply points to confusion, but does not help to clarify the basic characteristics of what leisure is compared to other aspects of human life. .

For example, in the “Motivational Foundations of Leisure”, Iso-Ahola seeks to find an explanation of what leisure is in the “innate basic (psychological) needs that are the main drivers of human growth and potential”. From his perspective, this need that everyone is born with defines what people consider leisure and guides them to engage in various conditions to meet those needs. Given this driving need for leisure, Iso-Ahola suggests that having a sense of freedom or autonomy is “the central defining characteristic of leisure.” However, he distinguishes this feeling of freedom from the everyday characterization of leisure as “free time”, which people use to describe the time when they are not working, since only a part of this free time can really be free from obligations. so someone can do exactly what they want to do.

For example, if someone does housework during this period of free time, this time would not really be free, although Iso-Ahola suggests that the more a person thinks of their work as an obligation, the freer they feel when they are engaged. in non-work activities and, therefore, that activity could really be considered leisure.

From this perspective, then, if a person really enjoys their work and participates in a variety of activities that contribute to job success, although these activities could otherwise be considered leisure for someone who engages in these activities for reasons that They have nothing to do with your job, these activities may no longer be considered leisure. An example of this is the salesperson or CEO of a business who plays golf with other potential customers. On the one hand, golf is often considered a leisure-time recreational activity. But it has become part of the job of the salesperson or CEO, although the salesperson or CEO can freely choose to play golf or not, or engage in an alternative form of entertainment with prospective clients, such as taking them to a show or game of ball. If that person plays golf, goes to a show, or is a spectator at a ball game with family members and there are no co-workers present, that could more properly be characterized as leisure. But in many cases, the salesperson / CEO may take the family on a golf outing, show, or ball game with his co-workers, thus clouding the concept of leisure. Given the circumstances, using a continuum from non-recreational activities to recreational activities might be a good way to characterize different types of leisure, rather than trying to make a distinction between what is leisure and what is not leisure.

In any case, based on this notion that freedom is a basic characteristic of leisure, Iso-Ahola suggests that leisure activity is characterized by behavior that is self-determined, or that it can start out as determined, but can become self-determined by the process of “internalization” Therefore, to the extent that people carry out daily activities because they want to, they make them similar to leisure. An example might be if I loathe gardening (which I really hate), but start doing it because I can’t afford to hire a gardener and eventually I start to feel joy about it, which would make it a leisure activity. (But since I can hire a gardener, I don’t have any compelling reason to do this, so for now it’s definitely not a spare time activity for me.)

Then, also, according to Iso-Ahola, leisure could be characterized by flight, which can contribute to internalize an activity, which makes it even more a form of leisure.

Iso-Ahola brings all of these ideas together in a pyramid in which the greater one’s intrinsic motivation and sense of self-determination, the more he engages in true leisure outside the work context. At the bottom is the mandatory participation in non-work activities, such as housework that must be done around the house. At the next level, above this, he distinguishes participation in free-time activities on television and exercise, which, in his opinion, are not usually true leisure, since people are not truly autonomous to participate in any of the activities. He states that people lack autonomy to watch television, because they do not really want to do this and it does not make them feel good about themselves (although this opinion of television is questionable), and in the case of exercise, he states that they feel they should do this because it is good for them, and not because they want to. Finally, at the top of the pyramid is full participation in free time, where one feels complete autonomy and freedom, for which one gains intrinsic rewards, a sense of fluidity and social interaction with others.

Finally, to briefly quote Iwasaki’s approach to characterizing leisure, it seeks to describe leisure as a way of generating certain types of meanings, although particular meanings may differ for people who experience different life experiences or come from different cultures. In Iwasaki’s view, citing the World Leisure Association description of leisure, meaningful leisure offers “opportunities for self-realization and a greater contribution to the quality of community life.” As such, leisure includes self-determined behavior, showing competence, participating in social relationships, having the opportunity for self-reflection and self-assertion, developing one’s own identity, and overcoming negative experiences in life. Iwasaki also describes the five key factors that are aspects of leisure (which he prefers to call “leisure-like” activities: 1) positive emotions and well-being, 2) positive identities, self-esteem and spirituality; 3) social and cultural connections and harmony, 4) human strengths and resilience, and 5) lifelong learning and human development.

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