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Gambling as activity: Subcultural life-worlds, personal intrigues and persistent involvements 1

Robert Prus

Abstract


Although gambling is often envisioned as a disreputable if not also a personally and socially destructive realm of endeavor, this paper approaches gambling as a realm of activity in a more generic, pluralist sense. Employing Henry Lesieur's (1977) portrayal of gambling in The Chase as an ethnographic focal point, this paper not only attempts to "permeate the deviant mystique" that surrounds gambling, but also endeavors to provide a set of conceptual, methodological and textual resources that could inform the study of gambling or other involvements of a parallel sort. Thus, while appreciating the relevance of Henry Lesieur's The Chase for the study of gambling more specifically, this statement also draws attention to the contributions (envisioning Henry Lesieur's text as a prototype) that more sustained and detailed ethnographic studies of gambling as activity can make to the broader social science enterprise. In a related way, whereas more intense gambling often is explained as an individual quality (or affliction), this statement examines gambling more centrally as a subcultural process. Thus, gambling is approached as situated, career, fascinated, and persistent instances of activity that can be adequately understood only within a socially constituted life-world.


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4309/jgi.2004.10.9

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