According to the Oxford English Dictionary, enthusiasts are people who have a passion, dedication, keeness or zeal for a particular activity or cause. The ‘enthusiasm’ explored in my research so far has been a personal passion for technology and forms part of a longer tradition of historical preservation in the UK.
In their own words
One meaning of enthusiasm is as a form of possession, madness. Obsession perhaps rather than possession, which I think is entirely true. It is a pejorative term probably. The railway enthusiast. But an awful lot of energy goes into what they do and achieve. Enthusiasm to my mind is an essential ingredient. If you are not a person who can muster enthusiasm, it is very difficult, I think, to get anything out of it. On the basis of the more you put in the more you get out of it. In terms of what happened with industrial archaeology in this country, I think, enthusiasm is a very important aspect of it. The movement needs people who can transmit that enthusiasm.
(Extract from interview with GLIAS member)
I am an enthusiast, aren’t I, on this. But I mean there are enthusiasts who stand on the end of railway platforms collecting railway train numbers. Now are they enthusiasts in the same class? They are enthusiastic about that. There are enthusiasts who spend every Saturday and Sunday on the river bank fishing. In a way, I would boldly say, there is a bit of a difference that there is something passive about collecting train numbers and fishing. Whereas this kind of enthusiasm leads to something positive. It’s creative in a way. I would certainly label myself as someone who creates. I mean that is what engineers do, they create things.
(Extract from interview with CCS member)
Sean: An enthusiast is someone who allows what they are interested in to take over their lives.
Sean’s Girlfriend: It takes a big part of their time.
Mick: It is a difficult one because I know enthusiasts who are completely OTT. There is nothing else in the world and that is it. And they are boring and I would classify them as anoraks.
Sean: Stop looking at me when he says that.
Sean’s Girlfriend: I wasn’t.
Mick: There are other people in the world who have got the view that ‘Yes, it is worthwhile preserving. Yes, ought to teach somebody else about it so it doesn’t go away’. But don’t make a big fuss about it. They just get on with it and they do it. Those sort of people I can associate with.
(Extract from interview with THG members)
Enthusiasm is an interest in a subject which goes beyond the average necessary for existence. Homing in on a particular topic, which provides pleasure of a certain sort. An occupation of kind outside of necessary time spent staying alive. Something which is associated , in this context, with spare time. The tern enthusiasm you are using here is a special use of the word to describe a kind of activity, which people indulge in, which provides pleasure.
(Extract from interview with Science Museum curator)