Chapter 22: The Impact of New Technology on Leisure Networks
Vincent G. Fitzsimons INTRODUCTION Previous chapters have looked at leisure choices. In the models associated with this, interaction with others is for mainly instrumental purposes. For example, to play a competitive sport, even in a friendly manner, requires other participants. Obviously, additional utility may arise from social interaction with fellow players. In this chapter, we consider situations where social interaction in itself can become sufficient as an activity. This social interaction has been facilitated by the expansion of information technology which greatly reduces the transaction costs of interacting with another person. It is not without costs, however, mainly in the form of risks to individual safety and well-being, although there may also be ‘hidden’ pecuniary costs in the way that entry to leisure networks is priced. While a limited set of opportunities for leisure existed in medieval times, some activities were recognizable forerunners to modern forms of leisure. Religious festivals were particularly important as they provided opportunities for socializing, religious observance, part of which involved public readings of religious tracts, and collective feasting for the community (the basis of the idea of companionship, from com and panis, or breaking bread with others). In many respects, these were the main forms of social leisure of the period, until the decline in religious feast days following the Reformation. More secular breaks in the routine were the tournaments which feudal nobility participated in at first as competitions of military skills, but later more as symbolic or sporting occasions (Thomas, 1961; Larrabee, 1989). As...
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