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Leisure or Labour: An Identity Crisis for Modern Hunting?


Sociologia Ruralis

Published online on


--- - |2 Abstract Modern hunting appears to be undergoing an identity crisis as a result of transitioning from labour to leisure. This transition is by no means linear or absolute. Today, hunting is framed both as a hobby for the leisure participant, and as a societal duty that delivers wildlife management, pest control for agriculture, sustainably sourced meat and euthanasia of injured wildlife. Hunting is hence doubly serious as ‘serious leisure’: it involves skill and perseverance, but it is also seen as serious in constituting societal labour. In this article, we employ netnographic research to examine how and in what contexts labour‐leisure tensions are manifested among Swedish hunters. We observe hunters struggle with the balance between leisure and labour on four levels: (1) internally, when it comes to reconciling their personal motivations for hunting; (2) between hunters, resulting in the normative differentiation between ‘urban leisure hunters’ and everyday hunters in the countryside doing ‘real’ work; (3) between different hunting practices; and (4) between wanting to enjoy the freedom afforded by the leisure label, while also inviting formalisation of hunting's role as a public service, including compensation. Our findings show the contradiction between labour and leisure is also differently managed across these levels. - 'Sociologia Ruralis, EarlyView. '