Leisuring Identities: Social Identities, Leisure, and Everyday Life in British Indian Childhoods

Utsa Mukherjee

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


This thesis focuses on British Indian children’s everyday leisure experiences and analyses the ways in which social identities play out within the time-spaces of children’s leisure. It draws upon the sociology of childhood and that of leisure to understand the subjective meanings that professional middle-class British Indian parents and their 8-to-12-year-old children – living in and around London - attach to the latter’s everyday leisure activities. Whilst existing studies demonstrate the significant role leisure practices play in organising middle-class children’s everyday geographies; our current understanding of these processes are products of research conducted predominantly with white middle-class parents. Consequently, the perspectives of ethnic minority middle-class parents are underexplored and an overt focus on parenting and class processes has also left out children’s own voices and subjective experiences of leisure. In addressing these gaps and by critiquing the adult-centrism of existing leisure theories, in this thesis I have studied children’s leisure by constructing a framework that maps children’s leisure across three interlocking ‘genres’: structured, family, and casual leisure. Drawing upon 30 narrative interviews with parents and children as well as 10 draw-and-talk activities with children, I argue that social identity processes linked to social class, race, ethnicity, gender and generation are enfolded in multiple ways into the time-spaces of children’s leisure. These leisure activities in turn serve as sites where social identities are negotiated, performed, and refashioned. The findings demonstrate that parents and children – from their respective social locations - attach different sets of meanings to different genres of leisure. The parents in the study take a largely instrumental view of leisure and mobilise their class resources for reproducing class advantages and facilitating ethnic and racial socialisation through leisure. By considering how parents and children negotiate the familial generational order with respect to leisure, this thesis contributes to key debates around children’s agency and parenting practices in British Indian families.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Barn, Ravinder, Supervisor
Award date1 Mar 2020
Publication statusUnpublished - 2020


  • Children's Leisure
  • Sociology of childhood
  • British Indian
  • Children's Agency
  • Parenting Culture

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