Confronting the Stigma of Leisure
The purpose of this paper is to explore the work/leisure binary as it relates to labeling, stereotyping and ultimately stigmatizing persons with disabilities. Although less deliberated in the literature, stigma depends on social context, a class or category of undesirable behaviors practiced by the actor, in the present case—leisure. The evolution of leisure as a stigmatized class of human activity is addressed, with special attention to the intersection of work and disability and how inability to work has come to stigmatize the leisure of persons with disabilities. Usual and customary stigma management strategies employed by abled citizens are reviewed. For the child, the currently employed and even the retired, seriousness or employment, or both justify and legitimize their use of leisure. No such alternatives are available to the unemployed majority of persons with disabilities. Finally, the implications of inclusive leisure are explored, how it confronts stigma and may be used as a basis for changing the general perception of leisure by a lay audience. Inclusive leisure is an expression of equal rights; it confronts the stigma of leisure in two ways. First, by comingling with the abled, the demarcation between normal and abnormal dissolves into diversity and appreciation of differences. Second, inclusive leisure challenges the validity of a work/leisure binary. Because it contains the cosmetic appearances of work-- earnestness, a career-like calling, and utility-- serious leisure is suggested as a method of transition from inclusion to the recognition that leisure is a valuable activity.
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