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book image Leisure
A Handbook of Leisure Studies  
Edited by Chris Rojek, Susan M. Shaw, and A. J. Veal
Illustrated. 576 pp.
Palgrave Macmillan. US$196.95
ISBN: 9781403902788

Leisure studies, a field virtually non-existent at the beginning of the twentieth century, has evolved into a complex, multifaceted discipline with many opportunities for education, study, and employment. In spite of persistent growth of the field during the last 100 years, and especially in the last two or three decades, there has been no comprehensive handbook of leisure studies that students and professors could use in their studies.

Enter the first such handbook, certain to be valuable to anyone with a professional interest in this field. What is remarkable about A Handbook of Leisure Studies is the editors' concerted and largely successful goal of producing a work that avoids a strong Western bias. This is particularly important in a field like leisure studies, where globalization is a prominent feature. Globalization is generally a positive theme in leisure studies, but A Handbook of Leisure Studies also does a good job of refusing to accept that characterization at face value. The result is work with that presents a nuanced and deep understanding of the complex issues of globalization and a multicultural perspective that will definitely be to the benefit of readers, no matter where they are and where they choose to practice their profession.

Although globalization is a central issue in leisure studies, it is just one of the key themes around which the book is organized. Drawing on sociological, economic, and even political perspectives, A Handbook of Leisure Studies' focus includes the interdisciplinary nature of leisure studies, the relation between leisure and power, the process of leisure, which examines the multidimensional, variable aspects of leisure, taking it far beyond the mere social and cultural contexts in which it has traditionally been viewed, and finally, the very important spatial aspect of leisure forms and activities. Each of these themes is richly explored, even addressing issues of morality, equality, and social justice.

There is geographical and disciplinary diversity among the contributors and editors. Approximately 35 leisure studies scholars and experts contributed to this handbook. They represent an impressive array of backgrounds and nationalities. Greece, Australia, Canada, Scotland, and Hong Kong -- these are just some of the locations represented.

A Handbook of Leisure Studies will be useful as a central part of the curriculum of leisure studies classes. This would be the case even if it were a field that already contained more works. It is an excellent study. Professors will be able to assign the whole book as reading or focus on specific sections or chapters that suit the focus of a particular class. Individuals who are already working in the field of leisure will also find that A Handbook of Leisure Studies is an excellent way to enhance their in-depth understanding of this complex and interesting field. Each chapter includes an extensive bibliography, which helps A Handbook of Leisure Studies to be an excellent starting point for students and researchers who wish to delve beyond its contents.

The three editors of the book, Chris Rojek, Susan M. Shaw, and A. J. Veal, are well-known and respected scholars. Chris Rojek is a member of the Faculty of Law and Social Science at Brunei University in the UK. Susan M. Shaw is a member of the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies at the University of Waterloo in Canada. A. J. Veal is a member of the School of Leisure, Sport, and Tourism at the University of Technology in Australia.

Sylvia Breau, for Notable Book Reviews
Notable Book Reviews received one or more copies of this book in exchange for this review.
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