There are different definitions of leisure, which depends on the culture, age, career, and gender among other factors. In Western cultures, people regard leisure as an activity, time, or state of mind. Stebbins defines leisure as unrestricted time (17). It is a period when one is free and at liberty to engage in any activity that pleases them. Associated with free time, is the general opinion that leisure is beneficial or invaluable to society or an individual.
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Stebbins posits that this belief originated from ancient Greece, where people viewed leisure as “both sovereignty from the necessity of ponos (work or sorrow) and freedom for engagement with paideia (culture)” (21). As aforementioned, there are different definitions of leisure, hence to understand its meaning, it is imperative to consider this term from different contexts. This paper will discuss the different definitions of leisure.
Leisure as a Distraction
Results from both quick and extensive interviews show that many people, especially the adults, view leisure as a distraction from daily routines. The majority of the employed persons spend a lot of time at work. They do not have adequate time to engage in activities that touch on their social life. In African community, family is essential and has a significant impact on individuals’ free time. Stodolska et al. argue that in this community, leisure activities are centered on friends and families (43).
Africans consider leisure as a diversion that gives them an opportunity to have time with family members and interact with friends. It is imperative to note that most African households comprise of extended families. This society values families and works hard to maintain the principles and norms that bring them together. Consequently, they view leisure as a great occasion to spend time together and strengthen their bond.
Leisure as an Experience
The different age-groups have divergent views about gender. Thus, it would be imperative to define leisure as an experience to put into consideration factors such as individual’s motivation, choice, and perception. According to Lepp et al., it is vital to consider the benefits that individuals aspire to get from their free time (213). Lepp et al. state, leisure gives people a chance not only to express themselves but also use their abilities and skills to achieve and preserve certain values (215).
It is an opportunity to be oneself and engage in what one likes most, be it watching movies or listening to music. For youths, they may view leisure as an occasion to express themselves and build social relationships. It underscores the reason the teenager interviewed in this paper claims that he opts to spend his free time meeting new friends and sharing his feelings. On the other hand, adults may regard leisure as a chance to meditate and evaluate their success. In fact, most adults use free time to appraise their growth and determine if they have achieved target goals. Consequently, the experience that individuals have with their free time dictates their perception about leisure.
Leisure as Freedom
Gender plays a significant role in people’s opinion on leisure. Vandelanotte et al. claim that the view of leisure as free time is gender insensitive because it fails to consider the plight of working women, as well as those with young children (203). The woman interviewed argued that she does not have free time because if she is not at work, then she is attending to domestic duties. Moreover, women with young children cannot allege to have free time because they are always tending to their kids. Consequently, most women define leisure as freedom to do what one pleases. According to the interviewee, free time does not mean doing nothing, but having the liberty to engage in activities that suit their interests. It is when a person decides to partake in an activity without compulsion.
Leisure as Relaxation
The economic hardships and the desire to lead a quality and happy life have forced many people to spend a lot of time either at work or in school. Vandelanotte et al. maintain that it has become difficult for most people to strike a balance between employment and social life. As a result of this, a big share of the working population defines leisure as relaxation. The civil servant interviewed in this study argued that leisure accords her a chance to relax and ponder on social life.
It gives her body and mind the time to rest, therefore enabling her to resume working rejuvenated. Leisure is essential because it prevents working individuals from becoming stressed, which could impair productivity. Many employees admit that leisure helps them to deal with hectic days. It restores their energy, enabling them to be at their best at all times.
There are different definitions of leisure according to age, gender, race, and occupation. Most Africans consider leisure as a distraction that gives them a chance to spend time with relatives and friends. On the other hand, teenagers regard free time as a diversion that enables them to interact with acquaintances. Working women view leisure as the liberty to participate in activities without coercion. Adults and youths define leisure based on the experience that they derive from their free time. The employees see leisure as relaxation because they get an opportunity to respite.
Lepp, Andrew, et al. “Exploring the Relationships Between College Students’ cell Phone Use, Personality and Leisure.” Computers in Human Behavior, vol. 43, no. 1, 2015, pp. 210-219.
Stebbins, Robert A. Leisure and Positive Psychology: Linking Activities with Positiveness. Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.
Stodolska, Monika, et al., Editors. Race, Ethnicity, and Leisure: Perspective on Research, Theory, and Practice. Human Kinetics, 2014.
Vandelanotte, Corneel, et al. “How Do Different Occupational Factors Influence Total, Occupational, and Leisure-Time Physical Activity?” Human Kinetics Journal, vol. 12, no. 2, 2015, pp. 200-207.
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Appendix 1: Quick Interview
This interview involved 20 people who were asked to define leisure using one word. The following table summarizes their responses.
|Number of people||Definition|
Appendix 2: Extensive Interview
This is an interview conducted on two individuals. The first person was a 30-year old African female who was employed as a civil servant. The second person was a 17-year old white teenager who was in high school.
What do you like most about Leisure?
Person 1: Leisure serves as distraction to me. It gives me an opportunity to depart from my busy schedule and have time to interact with family members.
Person 2: It gives me an opportunity to stay away from classes. I engage in different activities ranging from playing football to travelling with friends during leisure time.
What do you like least about leisure?
Person 1: As a civil servant, I try as much as possible to forget my challenges at work. Nevertheless, leisure offers an opportunity for reflection, which leads to me remembering some bad memories.
Person 2: At times, my parents ask me to help in the house during my leisure time. I do not like it because it deprives me of the chance to go out and meet friends.
How do you experience leisure?
Person 1: Leisure is critical because it helps me to find balance between work and social life.
Person 2: I like leisure because it gives me an opportunity to have fun.
What does leisure mean to you?
Person 1: Leisure means a freedom.
Person 2: Leisure means relaxation.