A feeling as much as a place: leisure, deaf clubs and the British deaf community

Atherton, Martin orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-7300-2339 (2009) A feeling as much as a place: leisure, deaf clubs and the British deaf community. Leisure Studies, 28 (4). pp. 443-454. ISSN 0261-4367

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02614360902951690


A distinct and identifiable 'deaf community', comprised of people who view themselves as members of a social, cultural and linguistic minority, has been recognised for many years. One of the main ways in which deaf people joined together was as members of their local deaf clubs, where they shared their leisure time with others with similar experiences, interests and outlooks. These deaf clubs served as the social and cultural hubs for the deaf community, allowing deaf people to form personal and communal attachments that extended far beyond the physical spaces the clubs inhabited. The clubs allowed the transmission of shared culture, language, tradition and history amongst deaf people, and in doing so provided their members with emotional rewards that exceeded those of merely filling leisure time. A brief analysis of the activities and motivations of deaf club members will be offered to support the contention that engagement in the leisure opportunities provided by deaf clubs provided emotional and psychological attachment to a community as well as a physical space for these activities to take place. The term 'deaf club' was as important for the sense of community and belonging it engendered as it was as a place to spend leisure time.

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