Book Reviews - Volume 1 Issue 3
Entertainment and Sports Law Journal
OF POWER AND MONEY The Politics of Leisure Policy, by Ian P. Henry. 2nd edn., Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2001. Pp.284, £16.99 (pb), ISBN 0 333 94853 X. Ian Henry has expanded and updated his previous edition of The Politics of Leisure Policy to include more information and analysis about the leisure policies of the Major and Blair administrations. This highly detailed description of the leisure policies of British administrations contextualises the attitudes towards and the financing of leisure
... cing of leisure within each administration's broader ideological vision. Henry defines leisure for the purposes of this book as being sport and active recreation as well as the arts and culture, and with only a limited examination of tourism. Each chapter is designed to build upon the last but is also perfectly capable of standing on its own, thus allowing the reader to use the work in its full breadth or to examine only relevant timeframes and topics. The book is divided into eight chapters, with each chapter structured in a chronological order. The first gives an historical account of how the state has influenced leisure since the industrial revolution. Henry notes that even in so-called non-interventionist phases, the government plays a strong role in promoting or curtailing certain leisure activities, a policy that can be determined in part by examining which programmes are funded. Next, Henry establishes that politics and leisure policy are inseparable and he defines each leading party's ideology in relation to its attitude and funding of leisure activities. The role of the contemporary central government is explored more fully in chapter three. In this section, for example, Henry describes how John Major's administration initially continued the privatisation of leisure trend of Margaret Thatcher, but gradually became more active in governmental promotion of leisure and citizenship when the British suffered a crisis of identity following various conflicts with the European Union in the mid-1990s. At that time Major elevated the Department of National Heritage (which included art and sport) to a cabinet position, thus underscoring his commitment to an active leisure policy. When Tony Blair and New Labour took power, there were initially few major changes in leisure policy. However, over time, Blair's commitment to moving away from a policy of élitism and towards a policy of inclusion and education was evidenced by funding Opera House renovations provided ticket prices were reduced. Having looked at the philosophical agendas of the British administrations, Henry then turns to the effect of these changes on the professionalisation of the leisure services. He situates the leisure services industry within the contemporary national economy and describes the increasing managerial approach in the industry. Linked to managerialism, Henry in chapter six next explores the relationship between the public and private spheres of leisure as the economic conditions of the country and its workforce evolve. Chapter seven outlines regulation theory and the shift from one economic paradigm to another. Henry argues that the social policies of the governments in the 1990s were designed to accommodate and complement these shifts. The final chapter places Henry's work in a global context, particularly examining how Britain's role in the European Union might affect its leisure policies. 13ent05.qxd 14/01/2003 12:59 Page 111 Henry's work is amazingly detailed and comprehensive. He is careful to contextualise his work within the literature of political and economic theory as well as sociology and always to define his terms. Each argument is vividly articulated and drawn out to its logical conclusion. Each historical timeline begins with the industrial revolution and ends only with the present day. Henry has also created meticulous tables in which his historical timelines and arguments are encapsulated in a simple, easy-to follow format. These tables are in many ways the best part of the book, both accessible and comprehensible. Methodologically Henry has not only built upon a wide array of secondary source materials, but he has also collected vast amounts of governmental expenditure information from the Office for National Statistics and a myriad of other public reports. It is hard to imagine a more carefully crafted work on leisure policy in Britain. Paradoxically, the downside of this book is its density and depth. The book will be a challenge to those without an economic or political theory background and it assumes the reader has a detailed knowledge of British political, social and economic history. It is not particularly forgiving for beginners. Readers with a solid background in the aforementioned fields will likely be impressed by and appreciative of the wealth of information Henry has compiled, but novices are likely simply to be overwhelmed.