Leisure Activities in the Consumption City
In this article, we focus on leisure activities in the city. Namely, we are interested in finding out Romanians' interest in different types of activities, from sports competitions to attending craft fairs. Our research was conducted through an online survey on our platform www.questia.ro covering 500 respondents, with a plus or minus 4% margin of error. The survey was active between 17 and 19 of October 2017. Our findings are presented below.
Nowadays, the blurred boundaries between tourism and non-tourism activities have transformed the meanings of place and space, altogether raising important questions concerning several critical concepts like 'citizenship', 'community', or 'belonging' (Novy 2011). According to the study Marketing Marginalized Neighborhoods. Tourism and Leisure in the 21st Century Inner City , the rise of tourism and leisure development is the result of a complex set of interrelated trends and developments of which many are intimately connected to broader processes of urban restructuring and social change (Novy, 2011). Such trends, that are also observable in Romania, include but are not limited to:
- post-industrial shifts of contemporary cities’ economies
- changing patterns of business and leisure
- new geographies of capital accumulation
- changing governance logics and urban policy paradigms
- evolving lifestyles and consumption practices
- the conversion of socially marginal and working-class areas of the central city to middle-class residential use
- increasingly sophisticated forms of cultural commodification
- as well as “new” tourist demands and tourism strategy formations (Novy 2011, p.3).
More recently, the conceptualizations of idea of 'the tourist' have stepped out of the classical approaches and into considering tourists as “conscious, thinking and experiencing beings” (Selby 2004: 62), with the rise of “new tourism” (Poon 1993, 1994), or “post-tourists” approaches (Feifer 1985; Ritzer and Liska 1997). This shift has stressed the ways in which visitors’ backgrounds, interests, and behaviors have changed along with the evolving growing mobility and enhanced capacities for consumption in affluent societies (Novy 2011).
Moreover, as many studies have pointed out, being a tourist today does not necessarily mean that one has to visit another city or country. Today, engaging in tourist activities has become a part of the ordinary, the everyday. It shapes our way of seeing and experiencing the world that surrounds us and turns us into tourists in our own (urban) locations (Selby 2004; Shaw and Williams 2004; Franklin and Crang 2001 in Novy 2011).
In this manner, many people go gallery hopping and clubbing in other neighborhoods; venture into ethnic enclaves to explore specialty shops, festivals and exotic restaurants; take guided walking tours through neighborhoods with which they are not acquainted with, learn about their history, culture, and heritage or simply enjoy discovering areas by chance or serendipity (Novy 2001, 13). According to Novy (2011, 14) such practices, which are considered particularly widespread among well-educated, culturally competent workers in cities’ post-Fordist economies, as well as transient city users such as students or business visitors on short-term assignments, also have to be considered in order to account for the economic, physical, social, and symbolic reconfiguration of city space.
Drawing on the work of David Harvey (1989), The Condition of Postmodernity, Novy (2011) suggests that cities’ economic and social life became consumption-oriented, cultural and aestheticized for a number of interrelated reasons. Harvey elaborates that this not only involves what we would characterize as “high” culture but also street-level culture, non-mainstream groups, and lifestyles, artistic innovation, funky neighborhoods, multi-cultural spaces, etc. as traditional divisions between high and low culture have eroded and “consumer identities” became more differentiated and individualized. Havey’s postmodern cities have transformed into centers of consumption, play, and entertainment, filled with cultural innovation, physical upgrading of the urban environment. They are “innovative, exciting, creative and safe place[s] to live or visit, to play and consume in” (Harvey 1989, 9). The work, play and consumption habits of different classes (see for instance Zukin, 1995 or Marcuse 2003) shape the neighborhoods, and re-imagine, re-construct and re-shape the city.
Below, we present some of the key findings in regard to leisure activities available to people in their cities, coupled with their preferences in this regard.
The main leisure activity people enjoy doing is walking in the park, generically speaking. This involves taking walks in nature and it usually is cost-free and beneficial. The second activity people engage in is shopping, either in stores or in malls. This type of activity involves spending money and shows that people usually alternate between the two, due to various reasons. Going out with friends, attending festivals in the city and going to the cinema are other types of leisure activities that people do. Only a few engage in visiting art galleries and museums or attending sports events (or practice an outdoor sport). This shows that most leisure activities people prefer are rather consumption-oriented.
Out of those who attend sports events or practice an outdoor sport, most prefer doing so individually and not in a competition (57.8%), while others take part in marathons (26.1%), cycling competitions (12.4%) and only a few in swimming competitions. This shows that attending marathons is an activity mostly done by people living in big urban areas, with certain interests and lifestyles (be it interests in social causes, getting involved in outdoor activities with family, friends or co-workers or generally being sporty).
Most people get informed about what type of leisure activities they engage in from the internet (social media, news, blogs and so on). Others talk to their friends/family, while some prefer getting informed form the classical media (TV, radio or the written press). This shows that the internet plays an important role in shaping people’s interests regarding leisure activities.
Regarding what types of leisure activities they would enjoy doing in the future, most respondents said they are interested in attending more craft fairs, others said they wish for more amusement parks, while some would rather go to music concerts/festivals and art shows. This shows that the ‘postmodern’ city described above is consumption-oriented, but also cultural and aestheticized.
Don’t miss Questia Group's articles. Find out more about consumer behavior, attitudes and beliefs regarding numerous topics, from banking to consumer goods, the internet, leisure, marketing and retail in real time.