Analysing ‘seriousness’ in roller derby: Speaking critically with the Serious Leisure Perspective
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Breeze, M. (2013) 'Analysing ‘seriousness’ in roller derby: Speaking critically with the Serious Leisure Perspective', Sociological Research Online, 18(4), pp. 237-249.
This article draws on original ethnographic research in the context of roller derby to argue for a sociological analysis of seriousness. Galvanized by the notable divergence between participants’ practices of ‘seriousness’ and the use of this concept in the Serious Leisure Perspective (SLP), the article develops three constructively critical points. Firstly, contra to assumptions at the core of the SLP, ‘seriousness’ in leisure is differently accessible according to familiar intersectional patterns of inequality. Moreover, roller derby occupies a position of gendered alterity in relation to a broader cultural field of sport; ‘getting taken seriously’ in this context is an issue of gender contestation. Secondly, while the normative assumption that seriousness in leisure is individually and socially ‘good’ pervades the SLP, I argue that seriousness is more accurately understood as a generative ‘mode of ordering’ (Law 1994). I analyse seriousness as one discursive resource drawn upon and enacted in participants’ organizational and representational practice. Thirdly seriousness cannot be defined, as the SLP does, predominantly in terms of commitment; commitment is an interactional achievement. Participants’ enactments of seriousness include tactics of ridicule and satire and do not necessarily cohere. This paper thus responds to the question of what a more sociological approach to seriousness might look like and argues that seriousness-in-practice, in leisure and elsewhere, is generative of multiple and ambivalent effects and is thus amenable to, and requires, sociological analysis.