From Togas to Leisure Suits: What is Leisure?

staying alive

This is the beginning of a bi-monthly feature, called “Leisurely Thursdays,” where we explore leisure. Note that we will NOT be exploring leisure suits, but rather the hard-to-define concept of leisure.

Recreation and leisure studies suggested almost endless descriptions and definitions of leisure itself, which may include free time from obligations, spare time to engage in enjoyable activities, time off from work, and even rest and relaxation.

While the ancient Greeks preferred leisure as a contemplative state of mind, in the 20th century Neulinger (1972) suggested many popular views or theories of leisure— whether leisure was the antithesis of work, a way to fulfill personal needs, or freedom to recognize the appropriate state of mind in which to participate in a leisure activity.

More specifically, Dumazedier (1975) described leisure as having three important functions: relaxation, entertainment, and personal development. The notion of “leisure” has no simple definition, and leisure education with its processes and applications are far reaching and involve many ideals and components. One of the simplest definitions of leisure is: free and unobligated time.


What does that mean for us in the 21st century? Simply, we choose what we believe is leisure time. Only through leisure can we recharge our minds and bodies so we are ready to tackle work, life, and blogging!


Dumazedier, J. (1974). Leisure and the social system. In Murphy, J.F. (Ed.), Concepts of leisure: Philosophical implications. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, pp. 129-150.

Neulinger, J. (1972). The psychology of leisure (2nd edition).  Springfield, IL:  Charles C. Thomas.

5 thoughts on “From Togas to Leisure Suits: What is Leisure?

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