Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Richard Condon's "The Rise of the Leisure Class..."

I came across an article of great relevance to my project. It's Richard G. Condon's (1995). The Rise of the Leisure Class:Adolescence and Recreational Acculturation in the Canadian Arctic. In: Ethos 23 (1). American Anthropological Association. Pp. 47-68.

In this article, Condon (1995) elaborates on the issue of games - providing educational potentials. I have been searching for this kind of material for a long time now; ever since I read Janice Rahn's (2002) "The Pedagogy of Hip-Hop Graffiti." One can surely argue about graffiti being a leisure activity (I would consider it a full-time project), nevertheless, it is one of those articles which adresses the potentials of youth/adult activities - similar to Condon's "Leisure...". This is what interests me. How and what can we learn from leisure activities?

Condon's (1995) article is a lot about change and acculturation. Very "canadian" I would say - emphasizing modernity among Inuit youth opposed to traditional Inuit life, very sure about past-time egalitarian issues among the Inuit, something I just don't understand. Well, I'm not disregarding the possible fact, that past/pre-colonial Inuit life was egalitarian. No, I just don't want to go into this now. (Wouldn't people in the past also compete?)
What catches my attention, is Condon's (1995) ability to adress current issues among Inuit Youth and engage in analysing these. More specifically he looks at how game playing and sports works as means of releasing hostilities, very good for some people and maladaptive for others.
Other issues of interest are the facts about the variety of recreational fascilities available for 400 people! Indoor gymnasium, 2 basebal diamonds, a nine-hole golf-course, indoor hockey arena with locker rooms and snack bar, 2 indoor curling rinks! Wow. You would not expect this in a place like Holman. (In Sisimiut/Greenland, approx. 6000 people, there are 2 sport arenas, 1 big footbal field and more or less finished/worn-down skateboard park, motocross area (under construction).....)

"The rise of the Leisure Class" is in my opinion much better then Condon's book on Holman Inuit Youth from 1987 where the author presents some psychosocial analysis of Inuit adolescence. In "The rise of the Leisure Class" Condon writes on basis of his Holman material, but he handles "..the fact that many Inuit in the older generation perceive the recreational behavior of their youths ans nonproductive and wasteful," while he maintains "..that it serves a useful purpose for many young people (ibid.:65)."

Topics:
acculturative change - supposedly influenced by media (TV and Radio)
games as socialization device (the past/present Inuit society)
games important to individuals (the present/competion oriented societies)
organized recreational activities
individual recreational activities
inter-village competitions
economic demans made of youth today - fewer?
informal and impromtu paly
introdution of media/TV/radio service

Questions:
"The high rate of unemployment in most modern northern communities is also a critical factor in determining levels of leisure time available to young Inuit. As a result, many young people are now forced to delay their transition into adulthood (in social and economic sense) well into their twenties (ibid.:48)." Please explain someone! Leisure activities support faster transition into adulthood?

What is coeducational softball? (Condon 1995:59)

"..traditional Inuit games, like the traditional society, were largely individualistic (ibid.:62)." "..all those willing to participate had an opportunity to play, and there was no process of explicit ranking ability (ibid.:57)" - Condon talks about individuality compared to modern, complex team sports. I don't understand how individuality in traditional society hasn't been a booster for competion?