This book looks into how, why, and when people pursue those things in life that they desire, the things they do to make their existence attractive, worth living. Robert A, Stebbins calls this 'Positive Sociology', the study of what people do to organize their lives such that they become substantially rewarding, satisfying, and fulfilling. For most people in Western society, there is much more to life than eliminating or adequately controlling crime, drug addiction, urban pollution, daily stress, domestic violence, and overpopulation. Significant levels of success in these areas bring a noticeable measure of tranquility to people substantially affected by them, but they do not, in themselves, generate positiveness in daily life.The principal wellspring of "Personal Decisions in the Public Square" is, in large part, the sociology of leisure, a 'happy science'. It is focused on the attractive side of life. Among the basic concepts in the sociology of leisure are activity and human agency. The centrality of positive activity is one of its hallmarks and separates it from other social science specialties.
The examination of Stebbins' new kind of positive sociology centers on conceptual roots found in the approach known as the serious leisure perspective. This theoretical framework synthesizes three main forms of leisure (serious, casual, and project-based) showing their distinctive features, similarities, and interrelationships. Notwithstanding the importance of leisure, positive sociology must also consider the two other domains of life: work and non-work obligation.This new approach focuses the pursuit of 'that which makes life worth living'. In this way, this project explores ideas which are important to all people, such as, negotiating the right work/family or obligation/leisure balance and the tricky relationship between money and happiness. For research scientists or the general public the arguments presented may lead toward a better understanding of negotiating situations in a way that would be more positive then approaching them as 'problems' which need to be solved.