This paper argues that much theorizing and research in leisure studies takes place within a normative citizenship paradigm which regards public leisure provision as a central component of social citizenship and largely ignores the predominantly commercial nature of modern leisure. This combines with a reproductionist, society in leisure, approach to emphasize leisure as an area of inequality and inequity with a consequent downplaying of issues relating to the nature of leisure experiences. The assumption that public leisure provision is necessarily about the extension of citizenship rights is questioned by examining the centrality of the merit good rationale and suggesting that the leisure studies' defence of recreational welfare and leisure needs is not wholly coherent. It suggests that certain approaches within leisure studies risk proposing welfare without citizenship and over-estimating the role of public leisure facilities as a component of citizenship. It concludes that what is needed is the exploration of issues of consumer authority and the changing relationship between public and commercial provision in the mixed economy of leisure.