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Public parks were initially set aside for recreation and leisure and sport
People enjoying some leisure time

Leisure, or 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.

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 free; economic and social forces appropriate free time from the individual and sell it back to them[clarification needed] 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.

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.

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

Cultural differences

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 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. In Europe and the United States, grown up 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]

Family Leisure

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]

See also


  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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. OECD Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Society at a Glance 2009: OE.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> 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. 7.0 7.1 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

Further reading

External links