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By Young, Philip Howard

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Pace Guttmann, Elias and I were also well aware of the research on catharsis in sport and the fact that it indicates that sports tend to increase rather than reduce propensities to aggression. However, such research is based on a concept of catharsis which is different from Aristotle’s and our own. More particularly, it is based on an overly simple frustration– 32 O N T H E E M O T I O N S I N S P O RT A N D L E I S U R E aggression hypothesis and seeks to test – often under artificial laboratory conditions – the idea that sports, especially contact and combat sports, represent a context where people can vicariously discharge the frustration-engendered aggressiveness generated in their everyday lives.

That is a charge to which I readily accede. I do so because of the slowly growing recognition that Elias was one of the twentieth century’s most important sociologists on account of the reality-orientation of his work. I was lucky enough to have worked with him but that is not the point on which I wish to dwell. That concerns the potential fruitfulness of the theory of civilizing processes for the study of sport and leisure. However, a precondition for testing it is that it should not be rejected on ‘knee-jerk’ grounds on account, for example, of the Holocaust or other examples of twentieth-century barbarism.

Let me move closer to my central theme. In his important, but in my view marginally flawed, The Tourist Gaze (1990), Urry defines tourism as follows: Tourism is a leisure activity which presupposes its opposite, namely regulated and organized work. It is one manifestation of how work and leisure are organized as separate and regulated spheres of social practice in ‘modern’ societies. Indeed acting as a tourist is one of the defining characteristics of being ‘modern’ and is 22 O N T H E E M O T I O N S I N S P O RT A N D L E I S U R E bound up with major transformations in paid work.

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