Skip to main content
SLU publication database (SLUpub)

Research article2020Peer reviewed

Leisure or Labour: An Identity Crisis for Modern Hunting?

von Essen, Erica; Tickle, Lara


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.

Published in

Sociologia Ruralis
2020, Volume: 60, number: 1, pages: 174-197
Publisher: WILEY

      SLU Authors

    • Sustainable Development Goals

      SDG8 Decent work and economic growth

      UKÄ Subject classification

      Sociology (excluding Social work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)

      Publication identifier


      Permanent link to this page (URI)