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The Leisure Habits of 6-14-year-olds: Contribution to a Sociology of Childhood and Early Adolescence

Sylvie Octobre

In France, as elsewhere, there has been to date little or no wide sweeping inquiry into the leisure habits of the under-fifteen age group. These young people have always been considered as being infrasocial, as being subject to protection from the negative aspects of certain activities (and more especially those of the media) or as having leisure activities very largely determined by their family culture. They have therefore escaped such inquiries prior to crossing into adolescence. Consequently, there has been a lack of available information as to the role of early childhood and pre-adolescence in the development of their tastes. The study carried out under the aegis of the Département des études, de la prospective et des statistiques (DEPS) of the French Department of Culture and Communications provides a panoramic take on the input of 6-14-year olds with respect to their leisure activities, and ascribes their respective shares to the media (television, listening to music, radio, computer, video games), to reading, to amateur arts, to making use of cultural facilities (cinemas, libraries, live entertainments, heritage sites), and to sports and games. This article picks up on this study (whose results were published in October 2004), and focuses on three questions: how does age impact on changes in attitudes to leisure occupations? What effect does gender have? How and to what extent does primary family socialization target leisure activities and contribute to the reproduction of the phenotype? This discussion will contribute to the (re?)-opening of a sociological and political discourse on childhood seen through the prism of cultural activities.