Leisure, patriarchy and policy: an examination of processes and ideologies in the local state

Yule, Jean (1995) Leisure, patriarchy and policy: an examination of processes and ideologies in the local state. Doctoral thesis, Leeds Metropolitan University.

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The research presented in this thesis sought to explore the ways in which patriarchal relations are constructed and contested within and through the leisure policy process. Drawing on structuration theory, socialist feminism and malestream critical sociological analyses, a methodology was developed for examining the situated practices of leisure professionals and local politicians in the local state at a time of economic and political restructuring in the late 1980s.
The research explored the gender dimensions of recruitment to and experience of local government leisure professional and party political groups, and the extent to which women and men as gendered subjects were able to influence the leisure policy process. Of particular concern was the significance of leisure policy in feminist struggle. Also explored in the research were the kinds of gender ideologies circulating and the articulation of professional and party political ideologies with gender ideologies. An important consideration was the kinds of ideologies which were emerging and gaining ascendancy during the period of economic and political restructuring.
Arts and recreation policy in two local authorities were selected for detailed study. The main method of inquiry was semi-structured interviews with a number of local professional officers (n=30) and local politicians (n=37). Visits to sports centres and art galleries provided additional sources of data, as did policy documents and observations of council and relevant committee and sub-committee meetings.
The contribution of the research presented in this thesis is twofold : the development of a methodology for exploring the gender dimensions of the leisure policy process; and the generation of knowledge of the gender dimensions of leisure policy process. The research methodology implies a strategic relations approach to analysis of the state in which the state is theorised as a set of distinct institutions which at any one moment reflect the outcome of former struggles and provide
the context for future struggles. The research thus gives an indication of the complex configurations of struggles within the local state leisure policy process, and brings into focus the articulation of some key dimensions of those struggles - gender, professional, party political, and local-central relations.

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