Ruth Turner

What’s the value in having fun?
Here is the beginning of my thought experiment: When I think about fun in terms of ‘value’ I think about the environment. There is no inherent way of valuing fun (in the economy, for example) as with our natural resources. The discussion of the environment brings with it problems and questions like – what are our natural assets? What are they worth short-term, long-term? To whom do they belong? Can our assets be bought or sold or used up? And who is affected if they are? It struck me that these questions can also be applied to this question about fun.

My interpretation of all this is ‘How do we put a price on our environment?‘ and this might be translated into ‘How do we put a price on fun?

Paralleling fun with carbon emissions, I ask: 1. Does the person who makes the fun benefit from it? I would say yes, normally. And 2. Are we harmed by someone else having and enjoying fun around us? No, not usually.

As there is not a limited amount of fun in the world, we are not harmed in any way by someone else ‘hogging all the fun’ and ‘having it all for themselves’. In fact, we could even say that fun is strengthened by more people having it, aka: “the more the merrier”. And yet, on the converse, this is often an excuse peddled by carbon dioxide emitters (and worse) such as BP’s Tony Hayward arguing – in the words of Naomi Klein – “the ocean is big, she can take it” (see reference below). But alas, we know that the environment is not unlimited.

And thus, if following this argument, what would happen if we say that fun – like the environment – might be limited also? We might realise that if it is, we could start being harmed by someone having fun around us as above. Taking the simile even further, we could all become victims, as with carbon emissions, of giant fun-making corporations stealing it all and selling it for a marked-up price causing fun-inflation? Hmmmm.

My real worry is that I don’t know if I want to know what the value of Fun is. Or worse, give anyone the power to give it a value. Just in case the resources I offer are ones that deal with economic invisibility of the environment or similar – like that of other assets we have that cannot easily be translated into value – i.e. fun.

Naomi Klein – Addicted To Risk (TED TALK)

“How do we value nature?” lecture by Pavan Sukhdev (

Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet by Jeffrey Sachs.

Ruth Turner holds a Masters in Performance and Creative Research from Roehampton University, writes and produces in London.