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This article is about free time. For other uses, see Leisure (disambiguation).
"Free time" redirects here. For other uses, see Free time (disambiguation).
"Relaxing" redirects here. For the racehorse, see Relaxing (horse). For other uses, see Relaxation.
"Timepass" redirects here. For the 2014 Marathi language film, see Timepass (film).
Public parks were initially set aside for recreation and leisure and sport
People enjoying some leisure time

Leisure has been defined as a quality of experience or as free time. (1[1])


  1. ^ Kelly, John (1996). Leisure, 3rd edition. Boston and London: Allyn and Bacon. pp. 17–27. ISBN 0-13-110561-2. 

Free time is time spent away from business, work, job hunting, domestic chores and education. It also excludes time spent on necessary activities such as eating and sleeping. From a research perspective, this approach has the advantages of being quantifiable and comparable over time and place.Leisure as experience usually emphasizes dimensions of perceived freedom and choice. It is done for "its own sake", for the quality of experience and involvement.(1) Other classic definitions include Thorsten Veblen's (1899) of "nonproductive consumption of time." [1](2) Different disciplines have definitions reflecting their common issues: for example, sociology on social forces and contexts and psychology as mental and emotional states and conditions.

  1. ^ Veblen, Thorsten (1953). The Theory of the Leisure Class. New York: New American Library. p. 46. 

Recreation differs from leisure in that it is purposeful activity that includes the experience of leisure in activity contexts..

The distinction between leisure and unavoidable activities is not a rigidly defined one, e.g. people sometimes do work-oriented tasks for pleasure as well as for long-term utility.[1] A distinction may also be drawn between free time and leisure. For example, Situationist International maintains that free time is illusory and rarely fully "free"; economic and social forces appropriate free time from the individual and sell it back to them as the commodity known as "leisure".[2] Certainly most people's leisure activities are not a completely free choice, and may be constrained by social pressures, e.g. people may be coerced into spending time gardening by the need to keep up with the standard of neighbouring gardens or go to a party to because of social pressures..

A significant subset of leisure activities is hobbies which are undertaken for personal satisfaction, usually on a regular basis, and often result in satisfaction through skill development or recognized achievement, sometimes in the form of a product. The list of hobbies is ever changing as society changes.

A related concept is that of social leisure, which involves leisurely activities in a social settings, such as extracurricular activities, e.g. sports, clubs. Another related concept is that of family leisure. Relationships with others is usually a major factor in both satisfaction and choice.

Leisure studies and sociology of leisure are the academic disciplines concerned with the study and analysis of leisure.

Cultural differences[edit]

GI Card Game, Watercolor by James Pollock, U. S. Army Vietnam Combat Artists Team IV (CAT IV 1967). During the Vietnam War soldiers waiting to go on patrol would sometimes spend their leisure time playing cards. Courtesy National Museum of the United States Army.

Time available for leisure varies from one society to the next, although anthropologists have found that hunter-gatherers tend to have significantly more leisure time than people in more complex societies.[citation needed] As a result, band societies such as the Shoshone of the Great Basin came across as extraordinarily lazy to European colonialists.[3]

Workaholics, less common than the social myths, are those who work compulsively at the expense of other activities. They prefer to work rather than spend time socializing and engaging in other leisure activities.

Men generally have more leisure time than women, due to both household and parenting responsibilities and increasing participation in the paid employment. In Europe and the United States, adult men usually have between one and nine hours more leisure time than women do each week.[4]


Free time has potential for youth development, which is influenced by parental attitudes of interest and control, mediated by adolescent motivational style.[5] However, leisure may have negative results as well as being directed by peer and other social influences.

Family Leisure[edit]

Family leisure is defined as time that parents and children spend together in free time or recreational activities,[6] and it can be expanded to address intergenerational family leisure as time that grandparents, parents, and grandchildren spend together in free time or recreational activities.[7] Leisure can become a central place for the development of emotional closeness and strong family bonds. Contexts such as urban/rural shape the perspectives, meanings and experiences of family leisure. For example, leisure moments are part of work in rural areas, and the rural idyll is enacted by urban families on weekends, but both urban and rural families somehow romanticize rural contexts as ideal spaces for family making (connection to nature, slower and more intimate space, notion of a caring social fabric, tranquillity, etc.).[7][8] Also, much "family leisure" requires tasks that are most often assigned to women.

Leisure and Ageing[edit]

Leisure is important across the lifespan and can facilitate a sense of control and self-worth.[9] Older adults, specifically, can benefit from physical, social, emotional, cultural, and spiritual aspects of leisure. Leisure engagement and relationships are commonly central to "successful" and satisfying aging.[10] For example, engaging in leisure with their grandchildren can enhance feelings of generativity, whereby older adults achieve well-being by leaving a legacy beyond themselves for future generations.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Goodin, Robert E.; Rice, James Mahmud; Bittman, Michael; & Saunders, Peter. (2005). "The time-pressure illusion: Discretionary time vs free time". Social Indicators Research 73(1), 43–70. (JamesMahmudRice.info, "Time pressure" (PDF))
  2. ^ Situationist International #9 (1964) "Questionnaire, section 12"
  3. ^ Farb, Peter (1968). Man's Rise to Civilization As Shown by the Indians of North America from Primeval Times to the Coming of the Industrial State. New York City: E.P. Dutton. p. 28. LCC E77.F36. Most people assume that the members of the Shoshone band worked ceaselessly in an unremitting search for sustenance. Such a dramatic picture might appear confirmed by an erroneous theory almost everyone recalls from schooldays: A high culture emerges only when the people have the leisure to build pyramids or to create art. The fact is that high civilization is hectic, and that primitive hunters and collectors of wild food, like the Shoshone, are among the most leisured people on earth. 
  4. ^ OECD Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Society at a Glance 2009: OE.  See image at dx.doi.org
  5. ^ Erin Hiley Sharp, Linda L. Caldwell, John W. Graham and Ty A. Ridenour: Individual Motivation and Parental Influence on Adolescents’ Experiences of Interest in Free Time: A Longitudinal Examination, Journal of Youth and Adolescence, Volume 35, Number 3, pp. 340-353, 2006, doi:10.1007/s10964-006-9045-6
  6. ^ Shaw, S. M. (1997). Controversies and contradictions in family leisure: An analysis of conflicting paradigms. Journal of Leisure Research, 29(1), 98–112.
  7. ^ a b Shannon Hebblethwaite (2014) "Grannie's got to go fishing": meanings and experiences of family leisure for three-generation families in rural and urban settings, World Leisure Journal, 56:1, 42-61 doi:10.1080/04419057.2013.876588
  8. ^ Rye, J. (2006). Rural youths’ images of the rural. Journal of Rural Studies, 22, 409–421. doi:10.1016/j.jrurstud.2006.01.005
  9. ^ Kleiber, D. A., Walker, G. J., & Mannell, R. C. (2011). A social psychology of leisure. Venture Pub., Incorporated.
  10. ^ Kelly, ed., John (1993). Activity and Aging. Newbury Park and London: Sage. pp. 125–145. ISBN 0-8039-5273-2. 
  11. ^ Hebblethwaite, S., & Norris, J. (2011). Expressions of generativity through family leisure: Experiences of grandparents and adult grandchildren. Family Relations, 60(1), 121-133.

Further reading[edit]

  • Borsay, Peter. 2006. A History of Leisure: The British Experience since 1500, Palgrave Macmillan,.
  • Cross, Gary S. 2004. Encyclopedia of recreation and leisure in America. The Scribner American civilization series. Farmington Hills, Michigan: Charles Scribner's Sons.
  • Harris, David. 2005. Key concepts in leisure studies. London: Sage.
  • Hunnicutt, Benjamin Kline. 2013. Free Time: The Forgotten American Dream. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
  • Jenkins, John M., and J.J.J. Pigram. 2003. Encyclopedia of leisure and outdoor recreation. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-25226-1.
  • Poser, Stefan: Freizeit und Technik, European History Online, Institute of European History, 2011, retrieved: 1 March 2013.
  • Poser, Stefan: Leisure Time and Technology, European History Online, Mainz: Institute of European History, 2011, retrieved: October 25, 2011.
  • Rojek, Chris, Susan M. Shaw, and A.J. Veal (Eds.) (2006) A Handbook of Leisure Studies. Houndmills, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Stebbins, Robert A. 2007/2015. Serious Leisure: A Perspective for Our Time". New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.

External links[edit]