Amateurs: On the Margin Between Work and Leisure 0803912005, 0803912013

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Amateurs: On the Margin Between Work and Leisure
 0803912005, 0803912013

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SOCIOLOGICAL OBSERVATIONS Series Editor: JOHN M. JOHNSON, Arizona State University

"This new series seeks its inspiration primarily from its subject m atter and the nature of its observational setting. It draws on all aca­ demic disciplines and a wide variety of theoretical and methodological perspectives. The series has a commitment to substantive problems and issues _and favors research and analysis which seek to blend actual observations of human actions in daily life with broader theoretical, comparative,

and historical perspectives. SOCIOLOGICAL OBSER­

VATIONS aims to use all of our available intellectual resources to better understand all facets of human experience and the nature of our society."

-John M. Johnson

Volumes in this ser ies: l. THE NUDE BEACH, by Jack D. Douglas and Paul K. Rasmussen, with Carol Ann Flanagan



3. THE SILENT COMMUNITY, by Edward William Delph



5. THE MAD GENIUS CONTROVERSY, by George Becker 6. AMATEURS. by Robert A. Stebbins



Beverly Hills


Copyright© 1979 by Sage Publications, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

For information address: SAGE PUBLICATIONS, INC.

275 South Beverly Drive Beverly Hills, California 90212



28 Banner Street London EC l Y 8QE

Printed in the United States of America Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data

Stebbins, Robert A. Amateurs


(Sociological observations; 6) Includes bibliographical references and index. l. Amateurism. 2. Leisure-Social aspects. 3. Marginality, Social. I. Title. II. Series. 79-10769 301.5'7 GV14.45.S73 ISBN 0-8039-1200-5 ISBN 0-8039-1201-3 pbk. FIRST PRINTING

Acknowledgments Foreword by Max Kaplan Introduction

9 11 15


What is an Amateur? Professional-Amateur-Public System Implications Types of Modern Amateurs Attitudes Marginal Men of Leisure Conclusion Notes

19 23 27 35 37 40 43 44


The Routine of Amateur Theater Rehearsals The Career of a Dramatic Production Cast Party and Beyond Notes

47 50 56 61 62

Amateur Theater in Everyday Life Types of Amateur Thespians Amateurs and Professionals Family Mesh Occupational Mesh Notes

65 66 68 74 83 89




The Amateur Perspective in Theater Perspective of Self Preparedness and Confidence Perseverance and Commitment Perspective on Leisure Life-Style Rewards Thrills Disappointments Dislikes Tensions Notes

91 91 93 95 98 98 103 105 106 109 1 18


The Routine o f Amateur Archaeology Participating in Amateur Archaeology Meetings Fieldwork Reading and Courses Peripheral Activities Notes

121 1 24 1 24 1 26 1 34 1 35 1 38


Amateur Archaeology \n Everyday Life Types of Amateur Archaeologists Amateurs and Professionals Family Mesh . Occupational Mesh Notes

1 39 139 142 147 154 159


The Amateur Perspective in Archaeology Perspective on Self Preparedness and Confidence Perseverance and Commitment Perspective on Leisure Life-Style Rewards Thrills Disappointments Dislikes Tensions

161 1 62 1 65 1 67 1 69 169 1 74 1 76 177 1 80


1 84


The Routine of Amateur Baseball Baseball as an Avocation Core Activities Peripheral Activities Notes

1 85 1 88 1 89 200 203


Amateur Baseball in Everyday Life Types of Amateur Baseball Players Amateurs and Professionals Family Mesh Occupational Mesh Notes

205 206 210 215 222 228


The Amateur Perspective in Baseball Perspective on Self Preparedness and Confidence Perseverance and Commitment Perspective on Leisure Life-Style Rewards Thrills Disappointments Dislikes Tensions Notes

229 23 1 235 237 239 �239 244 245 250 253 258


Marginality and Amateurism On the Margin Amateurism in Individual and Society Marginality and Participation Notes

259 260 265 269 272



About the Author



my parents

The social scientist who manages to finish a field project is in­ debted to many people. For it is only with their goodwill that he has been able to observe and interview them about their daily lives. One particularly critical group consists of those who con­ trol access to the research setting. They are an important set of scientific gatekeepers. Because they risk their positions in some measure by allowing outsiders to study the inner workings of their groups, they deserve special recognition. I am grateful to the following for helping me in this fashion: William Garber, Managing Director of the Fort Worth Community Theater; Doyle Granberry, President of the Dallas Ar­ chaeological Society; Alan Austin, President of the Board of 9



Directors, Senior Men's Open League (Arlington, Texas); James Williams and Dan Doorman, captains of two baseball teams in the Open League. Following the completion of the interviews and observation, a small number of the respondents were called on to assist in still another way. Since this book is aimed as much at amateurs as it is at professionals and students in sociology, some of the former accepted my invitation to assess its validity and readability by perusing sections of the manuscript. Garber, Austin, and Door­ man also contributed here. To their valuable comments were added those of actor Erwin Swint and archaeologists King Har­ ris, !nus Harris, and Paul Lorrain. I am further indebted to my colleagues Arthur W . Frank, III and Marlene M. Mackie for taking time without complaint from their busy schedules to comb parts of the manuscript for unwit­ ting theoretical and empirical blunders. They did their jobs well. To John Johnson, Editor of the series, Sociological Observa­ tions, in which this volume appears, goes an expression of gratitude for the worthwhile additions he suggested. Myra Phipps and Leanne Magnus typed the manuscript with exquisite care. Only an author can fully appreciate their skills. The project was supported from three sources. The first was a travel and equipment grant from the Organized Research Fund at the University of Texas at Arlington. The second was a Sum­ mer Stipend from the National Endowment for the Humanities, which enabled full-time work on the study during May and June 1 976. The third came from the Research Policy and Grants Committee at the University of Calgary. It defrayed the costs of typing the manuscript. Finally, Sage Publications has given its permission to reprint, as Chapter 1 , an expanded version of my article "The Amateur: Two Sociological Definitions," Pacific Sociological Review 20 ( 1 977): 582-606. The excerpt from " Baseball: A Poem in the Magic Number Nine" by George Bowering in Chapter 10 of this work is taken from Touch: Selected Poems, 1960-1970, reprinted by permission of The Canadian Publishers, Mc­ Clelland and Stewart Limited, Toronto.

Three professional fields will gain from this important book by Professor Stebbins: ( 1 ) social-role theory of sociology and social psychology; (2) leisure studies in which both content and meaning of participation are present; (3) institutions, especially educational, that deal with the arts, science, and recreation. The general reader, less concerned with technicalities, will find here a fascinating account; although we are not all amateurs in theater, baseball, or archaeology. Millions on our continent and others have enough time now to turn, with more or less seriousness, to the pursuit of "free time" activities. As to sociology as a whole, important analyses of social roles · I I



were made by R. E. Park, E. T. Hiller, George Mead, E. W. Burgess, and Pitirim Sorokin. Well-known are Ralph Linton's anthropological formulation of "social role, " W . Sombart's study of the bourgeoisie, Czarnowski on the hero, Klapp on the fool, Frazier on priests and kings (in The Golden Bough), Simmel on the stranger and the poor, Michel on the political leader. Florian Znaniecki's classic, The Social Role of the Man of Knowledge, notes that, "From the sociological point of view, the primary matter about an in­ dividual is his social position and function, and this is not a manifestation o f his nature, but a cultural system he constructs with the help of his milieu, seldom creating, usually copying it from ready models . ' ' Therein lies Stebbins's valuable percep­ tion of the amateur within a cultural relationship - the "professional-amateur-public system" (P-A-P) - and the con­ struct of seven functional links between the amateur and the other components of P-A-P. Although the systematic study of leisure is still a young field, one might by now expect a refined set of studies on the roles of those who participate in physical, intellectual, social, aesthetic, civic, or other forms of activity. Indeed, is some form of less­ than-professional commitment not at the heart of participation in "leisure?" Perhaps we remain too busy refining that um­ brella term itself, and we are too engrossed (especially in the Western societies and Japan) in drawing correlations between participants and such factors as education, income, sex, oc­ cupation, and residence. The most massive of our statistical reports on leisure (The Use of Leisure, edited by A. Szalai, 1 973) covered twelve nations and some thirty thousand persons on such items as what they did within a twenty-four hour period, with whom, for how long, and so on. Mihavilovich of Yugoslavia has surveyed the leisure of Zagreb. But even his in­ tensive study of women is more a statistical than a social­ psychological document. Govaerts of Belgium has a book on women in leisure, but from the point of view of their activities in relation to freedom of action. Swedner at Lund is known for



relating leisure to cultural concepts and changes, as in his work for the Council of Europe. Parker in England is concerned with relationships of work to nonwork values. Even Dumazedier, our leading scholar of leisure patterns, has not gone into socio­ psychological depth in his valuable analyses of leisure attitudes, characteristics, and functions. The "roles" he discusses in his Sociology of Leisure (pp. 169- 173) are those of the research worker, cultural expert, administrator, and politician - none of them considered as participants in leisure processes . Our socialist colleagues are skillful in analytic and statistical work, but inclined to enlarge it into ideological positions rather than to subsume the data into behavioral patterns. Thus, Stebbins's contribution to leisure theory fills a major void. His use of interviews in three areas of leisure activity to draw larger constructs would, I suspect, have delighted Max Weber (a master of the construct as a tool), Florian Znaniecki (master, with W. I. Thomas, of the case study), and Oscar Lewis (exponent of a humanistic methodology in an­ thropology). There have been, of course, many discussions of "amateur" and "professional" within the arts, as in the lamentably defunct Arts and Society, from the University of Wisconsin. The in­ creasing literature in the "sociology of sport" frequently touches upon "amateurism, " recently in response to the suspect economic patterns and motivations of university sports. A more academic and perceptive approach will be found in papers of the research commission on sports that is an integral part of the International Sociological Association, or in proceedings of scientific congresses on sport that take place during the Olympic Games (Sport in the Modern World- Chances and Problems, Springer-Verlag) 1973, papers from the Munich Games) . Archaeologists and anthropologists have long been concerned with vandalism in the field by " amateurs, " but those thiefs and desecrators do not qualify for Stebbins' s use of the term. America has recently become even more dramatically aware of this breed from the King Tut Exhibition. In contrast to the



theater and baseball professionals, the professional ar­ chaeologist relies considerably on the genuine amateur - "a trained and committed source of help in the field and the laboratory, " as our author observes. Many large questions remain as the result of Stebbins's work, and he would be first to recognize and expand upon them: should the preparation for leisure (as for preretirement) not dif­ ferentiate between the amateur, the hobbyist, and other degrees of serious endeavor? How can leisure "counselors" use these dynamic descriptions of leisure roles? Can the P-A-P concept be applied to volunteerism and community participation in such areas as confict resolution, urban rehabilitation, improvement of welfare and health services, or the political process in general? Now as Professor Stebbins moves into his expressed interests in astronomers, magicians , and other amateurs who are ''serious about their leisure and therefore misunderstood by those of their associates - friends, neighbors, relatives, workmates - who participate only in popular leisure," his work in this p olyphonic pioneering book will itself be taken seriously by social role theorists, leisure educators, leisure policymakers, arts and science institutions, as well, we trust, as by his great university and country. Max Kaplan Director, Leisure Studies Program University of South Florida

If I were forced to identify a date on whkh the project reported in this book commenced I would have to select a day early in January 1 974. For it was during that month that I began the library research that led eventually to a paper on amateur musi­ cians, which was to be presented at a conference the following spring. Having been in amateur music most of my life (except for a two-ye