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Public parks were initially set aside for recreation and leisure.
Leisure or free time, is a period of time spent out of work and essential domestic activity. It is also the period of recreational and discretionary time before or after compulsory activities such as eating and sleeping, going to work or running a business, attending school and doing homework, household chores, and day-to-day stress. The distinction between leisure and compulsory activities is loosely applied, i.e. people sometimes do work-oriented tasks for pleasure as well as for long-term utility. Leisure studies is the academic discipline concerned with the study and analysis of leisure.

History

The word leisure comes from the Latin word licere, meaning “to be permitted” or “to be free,” via Old French leisir, and first appeared in the early fourteenth century. The notions of leisure and leisure time are thought to have emerged in Victorian Britainmarker in the late nineteenth century, late in the Industrial Revolution. Early factories required workers to perform long shifts, often up to eighteen hours per day, with only Sundays off work. By the 1870s though, more efficient machinery and the emergence of trade unions resulted in decreases in working hours per day, and allowed industrialists to give their workers Saturdays as well as Sundays off work.

Affordable and reliable transport in the form of railways allowed urban workers to travel on their days off, with the first package holidays to seaside resorts appearing in the 1870s, a trend which spread to industrial nations in Europe and North America. As workers channeled their wages into leisure activities, the modern entertainment industry (beginning with the film industry) emerged in industrialized nations, catering to entertain workers on their days off. This Victorian concept—the weekend—heralded the beginning of leisure time as it is known today.

Definitions

There are many different definitions of leisure. One popular social psychological theory of leisure was put forward by psychology professor John Neulinger in the early 1970s. Neulinger defined leisure using three criteria:
  1. The experience is a state of mind.
  2. It must be entered into voluntarily.
  3. It must be intrinsically motivating of its own merit.


Other theories abound. Sebastian de Grazia portrayed leisure as a form of contemplation. Seppo Iso-Ahola adapted a form of optimal arousal to explain leisure. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's flow theory is another popular definition of leisure.

Types of leisure

  • Active leisure activities involve the exertion of physical or mental energy. Low-impact physical activities include walking and yoga, which expend little energy and have little contact or competition. High-impact activities such as kick-boxing and football consume much energy and are competitive. Some active leisure activities involve almost no physical activity, but do require a substantial mental effort, such as playing chess or painting a picture. Active leisure and recreation overlap significantly.


  • Passive leisure activities are those in which a person does not exert any significant physical or mental energy, such as going to the cinema, watching television, or gambling on slot machines. Some leisure experts discourage these types of leisure activity, on the grounds that they do not provide the benefits offered by active leisure activities. For example, acting in a community drama (an active leisure activity) could build a person's skills or self-confidence. Nevertheless, passive leisure activities are a good way of relaxing for many people.


Examples of leisure activities

People who work indoors and spend most of their time sitting and doing sedentary office work can add physical activity to their lives by doing sports during their leisure time, such as playing a ball game, going camping, hiking or fishing. On the other hand, people whose jobs involve a lot of physical activity may prefer to spend their free time doing quiet, relaxing activities, such as reading books or magazines or watching TV. Some people find that collecting stamps, postcards, badges, model cars,planes or ships, bottles, or antiques are relaxing hobbies.

Free time is organized in many schools and institutions. Schools may offer many extracurricular activities including hobby groups, sports activities, and choirs. Other institutions such as retirement homes and hospitals also offer activities such as clubs and meetings for playing games or simply organized periods for conversation.

Most people enjoy socializing with friends for dinner or a drink after a hard day at work. For many young people, having a regular night out a week is a normal part of their free time, whether it is joining friends for a drink in a pub, dining out in a restaurant, watching a film, playing video games or dancing at a club.

Some people do leisure activities that also have a longer-term goal. In some cases, people do a leisure activity that they hope to turn into a full-time activity (e.g., volunteer paramedics who hope to eventually become professional paramedics). Many people also study part-time in evening university or college courses, both for the love of learning, and to help their career prospects.

Cultural differences

Time 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. As a result, band societies such as the Shoshone of the Great Basin came across as extraordinarily lazy to European colonialists.

Capitalist societies often view active leisure activities positively, because active leisure activities require the purchase of equipment and services, which stimulates the economy. Capitalist societies often accord greater status to members who have more wealth. One of the ways that wealthy people can choose to spend their money is by having additional leisure time.

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. Many see this as a necessary sacrifice to attain high-ranking corporate positions. Increasing attention, however, is being paid to the effects of such imbalance upon the worker and the family.

Throughout its early history, American society has been described as driven by the Protestant work ethic, a cultural view that is said to be inspired by the Protestant preacher John Calvin.

See also



References

  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. ( PDF file)
  2. The “u” first appeared in the early sixteenth century, probably by analogy with words such as pleasure.[1]
  3. Neulinger, John. 1981. The Psychology of Leisure. 2nd Ed. C.C. Thomas. ISBN 0398044929


Further reading

  • Peter Borsay, A History of Leisure: The British Experience since 1500, Palgrave Macmillan, 2006, ISBN 0333930827
  • 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. ISBN 0761970576.
  • Jenkins, John M., and J. J. J. Pigram. 2003. Encyclopedia of leisure and outdoor recreation. London: Routledge. ISBN 0415252261.
  • Rojek, Chris, Susan M. Shaw, and A.J. Veal (Eds.) (2006) A Handbook of Leisure Studies. Houndmills, UK: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 139781403902788.
  • Stebbins, Robert A. 2007. Serious leisure: A perspective for our time. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction. ISBN 0765803631.


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