This book explores the meaning of leisure in the context of the key social formations of our time: capitalism, modernity and postmodernity. Rolek brings together the insights of Marxism, feminism, Weber, Elias, Simmel, Nietzsche and Baudrillard to produce a comprehensive survey - and rethinking - of leisure theory. At the same time he presents a radical critique of the traditional 'centring' of the concept of leisure on 'escape', 'freedom', 'choice'.In the first part, he describes the relations between capitalism and leisure, the meaning of free time for workers in a capitalist system, and the gendered nature of leisure. He then discusses the social construction of leisure under modernity and the main competing arguments - that it imprisons the individual and reinforces conformity or that it liberates people and releases their creativity. Finally, he examines postmodernity, the cultural condition which has radically changed the idea of leisure. Revealing how leisure practices have responded to living in a risk society, he shows that 'free' time becomes something very different when simulation and nostalgia lie at the heart of everyday life. Decentring Leisure will be essential reading for students and lecturers in leisure studies, cultural studies and social theory.