The American Economy-Attitudes and Opinions

By A. Dudley Ward | Go to book overview
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The Use of Leisure

Most working people, both the self-employed and the employees in various occupations, have been gradually gaining more time free from their regular work. The eight-hour day, the forty-hour or fiveday week, and the vacation period of two weeks or more are comparatively recent innovations. When eight hours a day are deducted for sleep and three hours a day for meals, many more hours a week are still free for other uses than are required for the regular occupations in which workers earn their living -- less whatever time may be consumed in transportation in the cases of those who by choice or necessity do not live near their work.

Housewives, especially mothers of young children, may not find so much "free time." It was said of old that "man works from sun to sun but woman's work is never done." But housework has been much lightened by modern invention, so that many housewives (without young children) can carry on their housework and outside employment and still have free time.

In spite of various exceptions, it seems true, by and large, that a majority of workers have more hours of free time, even when allowance is made for sleep and meals, than the hours required of them in their regular occupations.

Is there an increasing absorption of free time by commercial entertainment and by various gadgets? Is this instructive, worth while, or wasteful? Is there greater pressure today to increase income and capital by doing overtime, taking a second job, working longer and harder at the profession?

We call this free time or "time off" leisure. Is there as much as we have indicated? How do people use it? It seemed worth while to suggest relevant questions to the discussion groups. Many persons would doubtless bring up problems involved -- their own problems, or those of others with which they or their communities were concerned. At least we would learn something of the ways in which these groups used their leisure or thought it could best be used.


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