Leisure is a continuum of behavior from normative to deviant. Some forms of leisure reflect widely shared cultural norms while others reflect only marginal or sub-cultural acceptance. Within this continuum, we label some harmless forms of non-traditional behavior frivolity. The social construction of frivolity is tempered by time, place, social class and tradition. In addition, frivolity can be a two-edged sword, defining the abnormal as normal or the normal as abnormal.

Anthropologists document the functional nature of frivolity as a safety-valve to the pressures of conformity. Sociologists explore how patterns of interaction are altered or suspended in response to special events defined as periods of frivolity. Likewise, students of popular culture study the emergent norms, behaviors and the social definitions associated with carnivals, festivals and special environments dedicated to frivolity.