The perception of freedom

The perception of freedom by the person who participates in leisure is an important factor.

Thus there will be considerable variety in the definitions that people give of leisure or of free time. Further, time as a physical element is measurable, but amount of leisure is not, if one mother perceives herself to be heavily weighted down when she feeds her infant, whereas a second finds it a delightful experience. Thus freedom is as much an issue for the social psychologist as for the economist and political scientist. The student of leisure deals on both levels, that is, with absolute quantities of time free from economic functioning and with time that is perceived as free.


If the concept of leisure is equated with re-creation, it has no value in itself except as a supplement to work. As developed in this book, leisure has moved further and further from subordination to work; increasingly, leisure is an end, a life of its own. As with all human ends, leisure is bound up closely with moral, ethical, and thought systems and with all social institutions.


Old associations of work with seriousness and leisure with lightness are now outdated and theoretically indefensible. Leisure activity, as we shall see, can include interests covering the whole gamut of human life; hence the degree of seriousness or significance is irrelevant to a concept of what leisure is or should be.


Play, as viewed by Huizinga, penetrates many human activities. In this broad view several of the elements of play, as he defined them, are synonymous with leisure: voluntariness, play as freedom, play as an interlude in life. Leisure, as we are characterizing it here, differs from Huizinga's scheme for play in that leisure is not necessarily secluded and limited, starting and stopping at specific times; it is unlimited in time and space, and as a system of order it is less limited by rules and norms. If we leave Huizinga and revert to the vernacular (historically inadequate) concept of play as an activity that is light, associated with child life, or an objectified slice of life on a stage, then, of course, leisure is a much wider and inclusive concept in which play is only one type.

This ideal construct of leisure is not intended to indicate a content, although we will speak later of types of leisure activity. Our basic assumption is that anything or any specific acdvity can become a basis for leisure. Further, it is evident that the construct has incorporated the subjective listing of views about leisure that were summarized earlier. We are now saying that there will be a variet in the perceptions by which people will see or understand their free time. However, this element of perception can hardly be reduced to only one of a set of elements, for in actual cases one or another of the elements will be emphasized.Two issues of method demand discussion: the use of this construct in (a) observing and (b) judging specific forms of leisure.Since we proceed on the assumption that leisure is not definable as a given activity but is rather a characterstic social relationship, how can a classification be derived? As all scientific classifications are: by the creation of typological tools sharpened to meet certain kinds of issues.

No comments: