Meanings of Leisure
Leisure’s meanings through …..
The humanities
Ancient history
Contemporary connotations
Using the humanities to
understand leisure meaning
• Humanities are areas of creation whose
subject is human experience.
• Related terms:
– Impressionism
– Aesthetic
– Arête
Leisure and Literature
Greeting cards, poems, novels,
advertising, books, short stories and
poems can all portray leisure:
“Hand of Cards” from Four Against Everest by
Woodrow Wilson Sayre
“Each one of us is dealt a hand of cards
by life. It’s not so much the hand you get
dealt but what you do with what you’ve
Another literary image of leisure
A scene from “The Big War” by Anton Myrer
(author of the bestselling “The Last
Convertible”) where Al, a marine, is
describing in a letter home what it is like on
board the transport ship where the marines
are bored with nothing to do …
Claude Monet
Edouard Manet
“Masked Ball at the Opera”
Pierre August Renoir
“Dance at the Moulin de la Galette”
Edgar Degas
A basic and universal activity of humans
• It reflects much about a society and
subcultures within that society.
• It has various styles.
•Many popular songs describe impressions
and meaning of leisure experiences.
In summary, the humanities of literature,
art and music offer many glimpses of
leisure meaning
• Can you think examples that portray leisure
as …
achieving the good life?
emotional outlet?
peace and quiet?
contact with nature?
Leisure legacies from ancient
The arts
Mass spectacle
Festivals and holidays
Lush gardens
The Origins of the Leisure Class
• In 1899 Thorenstein Veblen wrote a book
called “The Theory of the Leisure Class”
• Veblen described the leisure class as:
A group of people who had goods but did not
have to work
First developed in barbarian culture
Superior to other classes
Ancient Greece: Plato
• Plato’s teaching creates a foundation for
examining meaning in leisure
– A central role of education was to enlighten
the students as how much work was
necessary, how to use free time, and its value
to life.
– Schole and Ascholia
– The highest purpose of work was to escape
into leisure
Ancient Greece: Aristotle
• Leisure was activities performed for their
own sake
• The goodness of humans was found in
their power to reason
• There were some downsides to the ideal
of Greek leisure
Leisure in Ancient Rome
• Similarities and differences with Greek
• Leisure versus work
• Leisure and social control
Leisure in Contemporary Culture
Free Time
• Time free from the obligations of work
(subsistence) and existence (eating,
sleeping, and so on).
• Leisure is time free for making personal
• Free time can be regarded as privilege or
as a chance to escape
Leisure in Contemporary
Culture: Activity
• The view of many recreation professionals
• Recreation and leisure are often used
• Potential problem
Leisure in Contemporary Culture
State of Mind
• Leisure is defined by the meaning it holds
for the individual, by the individual, from
his or her own point of view
• Self-expression, self-achievement, and
So …What is leisure?
• No one single memorizable, right-answer
definition of leisure
• Complex
• Make conscious decisions
What next?
• Make sure your ‘notes page’ is completely
filled in with notes from this assignment
and the assigned reading.
• Complete the unit activity
• Complete the unit reflection paper
• Complete the unit quiz