Mothers alternative leisure: exploring the place of consumtion activity in mothers negotiation of their leisure

Por: Yu-ling Chen.

Athens 2004: Pre-olympic Congress

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Along with the development of feminism, the few researchers who care about women’s leisure have gradually shifted their attention from leisure constraints to the issue of how women challenge those constraints actively by re-constructing their identities and reveal their agency via resistance of power [1][2]. Along these lines, I emphasize how mothers use leisure to transform their oppressive, restrictive identities by carving out new kinds of recreation activities (daily shopping) from their daily practices to make for themselves new identities and new possibilities.


The focus of this study is to make use of women’s own descriptions and interpretations of their daily negotiation of leisure times and spaces with and through consumer activity. An ethnographic approach is taken to better investigate these questions by privileging women’s subjective experiences. In-depth interviewing, including follow-ups, is the primary method used here because it is the most appropriate tool to investigate how people construct their world [3]. The technique of snowball sampling has been employed [4], and totally the 20 conversational partners were recruited to participate in this study during the spring of year 2002.


The result of the analysis indicates that mothers lean to acknowledge the importance of family-oriented leisure and value families as their priority in their daily lives. The common way for mothers to negotiate their leisure constraints is create more leisure "containers" [5] which enable them to enjoy the feeling of relaxed, escape, and temporary "freedom". According to the interviews, mothers perceive shopping as an "alternative" recreation activity because it can provide them opportunities to exercise and fulfill their domestic job simultaneously.
Women’s agency revealed in this study not only alters mothers’ shopping experience from passive "doing shopping" to active "going shopping" [6], but also transforms mothers’ identity from oppressive servants to vigorous shoppers who can make decisions. Moreover, the result showed that although shopping carries the meanings of domestic jobs, it still can provide them a good site to sense the benefits of leisure, especially in the perspective of self-determination.


[1]. Shaw, S. (2001). Journal of Leisure Research 33(2), 186-201.
[2]. Green, E. (1998). Leisure Studies, 17(3), 171-185.
[3]. McCracken, G. (1988). The long interview. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
[4]. Rubin, H. & Rubin, I. S. (1995). Qualitative interviewing. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
[5]. Henderson, K.. et al. (1996). Both gains and gaps. State College, PA, Venture Publishing, Inc.
[6]. Bowlby, R. (1997). Supermarket Futures. In, The shopping experience (pp.92-110). London: Sage.





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