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Development of Leisure


Development of Leisure Prehistoric Societies People in prehistoric societies were primarily concerned with survival, hunting and gatherings were the primarily ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Development of Leisure

Development of Leisure
Prehistoric Societies
  • People in prehistoric societies were primarily
    concerned with survival, hunting and gatherings
    were the primarily activities and provided
    resources to maintain life.
  • There was little free time
  • Work, survival, and rest melded to become one
    life-sustaining activity.

  • Once prehistoric people could create tools and
    were able to store information in a larger brain,
    more time became available.
  • This free time was used for ritualization, or
    ceremonial acts.
  • These acts often focused on celebrations of
    successful hunts, offerings for bountiful
    harvests, and beseeching the gods for their favor.

  • It is believed that playlike activities were also
    critical to the needs of emerging tribes. These
    activities depicted historical events,
    transportation practices, war games, and the use
    of farm tools.
  • Play prepared children for their responsibilities
    as youth and adults and became a way of achieving
    solidarity and morality.
  • It also became a healing experience and a means
    of communication and provided pleasure and

  • As societies emerged, playlike activities were
    also a means to relax, recover, and replenish
    strength after working.
  • These emerging societies also developed
    structures that allowed people an opportunity to
    focus on specific work roles.
  • One could focus on being a hunter, while another
    could be a builder.

  • With these roles established, greater cooperation
    provided people with the resources for activities
    that did not relate to sustaining life.
  • Thus, for the first time, greater opportunities
    for leisure were experienced.
  • This is no different from today when people
    specialize in a particular vocation needed by
    the society, while relying on the specialties of
    others for their own well-being.

Ancient Greece
  • Ancient Greece (1200-500 B.C.) is an excellent
    example of how societal structure influenced the
    development of leisure.
  • Greek citizens, who could not vote and
    participate in state affairs, sought to become
    the well-rounded ideal of that era.

  • They embraced what was known as the Athenian
    ideal which was a combination of soldier,
    athlete, artist, statesman, and philosopher.
  • Rather than focusing on one area of expertise as
    is valued today, developing all areas was valued.
    This was only possible because of the tasks of
    everyday living were provided by laborers or
    slaves who ounumbered the citizens approximately
    three to one.
  • Those who were freed from everyday activities had
    the opportunity to pursue the range of activities
    necessary to become the Athenian ideal.

  • Leisure was very important in Greek society.
  • The Greek philosopher Plato and his student,
    Aristotle, supported this in their belief that
    virtuous and constructive leisure activities were
    the route to happiness and fulfillment.
  • Contemplation, which involved the pursuit of
    truth and understanding, was though to be the
    highest form of leisure.
  • Athenian philosophers strongly believe in the
    unity of mind and body and valued each.

  • Play was perceived to be essential to the healthy
    growth of children from both a physical and
    social perspective.
  • Citizens regarded leisure as an opportunity for
    intellectual cultivation, music , theater and
    poetry as well as political and philosophical
  • The concept schole meant to cease and have
    quiet and peace. It meant having time for oneself
    and being occupied in something for its own sake,
    such as music, poetry, the company of friends or
    the exercise of speculative faculties.
  • Schole embraced the experience and not the
    outcome. How different this is from today where
    the pursuit of an activity is often valued only
    if something tangible like a victory, mastery of
    a skill, or a specific expectation is gained.

  • An important part of ancient Greek culture, and
    perhaps at odds with the notion of schole was its
    passion for games.
  • Athletic games were held to celebrate religious
    rites and heroes for entertainment and for
  • Only men played sport and women were often
    excluded from public life.
  • Four Panhellenic games were very popular among
    the spectators and athletes. These included the
    Olympic Games, the Pythian Games, the Nemian
    Games, and the Isthmian Games and are thought to
    be held in honor of the gods, although others
    suggest that they commemorated the death of
    mythical mortals and monsters.

  • When athletic games were held, wars often ceased
    so that participants could compete.
  • The early Olympic Games, honoring Zeus included
    chariot races, combat events, boxing, wrestling,
    footraces, and the pentathlon a five sport
    event embracing the Athenian ideal.
  • Athletes also competed individually, not on teams
    and represented their home villages. This is
    similar to the modern Olympic Games in which
    participants represent their countries.

  • The early Olympics were an extremely serious even
    as well. It was not uncommon for participants in
    aggressive sports such as pankration (a
    combination of boxing and wrestling) to be
    encouraged to fight to the death.
  • This fate was seen as especially noble because it
    would immortalize the competitor in story for
    generations to come as having sacrificed his life
    in the pursuit of victory.
  • So important were the Olympics that Athenians
    would place an olive wreath on their door when a
    boy was born, thus signaling the hope that he
    would become an Olympian .

  • This seriousness of purpose and the use of
    leisure time to develop sport-specific skills are
    still found today. We work at getting better
    so we can play a sport well.
  • Like the ancient Greeks, we claim to value
    well-rounded people, yet parents increasingly
    encourage their children to specialize in one
    particular sport, often played year-round, so
    that they have the greatest opportunity to become
    better than their peers.
  • It should be of no surprise then that at the time
    when success in sports rivals that of the
    adulation shown to the earliest Olympic victors,
    the world finds itself facing an epidemic of
    cases in which competitors turn to illegal
    performance-enhancing drugs to assure victory.

Ancient Rome
  • The emergence of Rome as a dominant society
    influenced how leisure was perceived at that
  • Rome conquered the majority of Europe and Asia
    after about 265 B.C. and emerged as a dominant
    power in the Mediterranean.
  • The Roman Empire influenced the judicial systems
    and societies it conquered by attempting to
    overwrite with its own culture what had become

  • The Roman government was based on distinct
    classifications of citizens. These included
  • Senators, who were the richest and owned most of
    the land and power
  • Curiales, who owned 25 or more acres (10
    hectares) of land and were office holders or tax
  • Plebes, or free common-men, who owned small
    properties or were tradesmen or artisans
  • Coloni, who were lower-class tenants on lands,
    and finally
  • Indentured slaves.
  • Early Roman slaves were captured in war and
    served as agricultural laborers. Much later,
    large numbers of captives from Asia, Greece and
    central Europe became slaves and were exploited
    by their owners

  • Like in societies that came before it, the
    opportunity to participate in leisure during the
    Roman era was limited to those who had the
    appropriate resources.
  • The greater ones standing at this time, the
    greater the opportunity for freedom from the
    daily requirements necessary to live a
    comfortable life.
  • Senators enjoyed almost unlimited leisure, while
    coloni struggled to make a comfortable life. This
    is not unlike the present day where distinct
    economic classes enjoy varying degrees and types
    of leisure.

  • Unlike the ancient Greeks, who saw leisure as an
    opportunity for well-rounded development, Romans
    perceived leisure to be primarily rest from work.
  • Considering that the Romans were on an almost
    constant crusade to dominate foreign cultures,
    this viewpoint was necessary and allowed
    recuperation before the next crusade.
  • Play then served utilitarian rather than
    aesthetic or spiritual purposes.

  • As the Roman Empire grew and the increasing
    availability of slaves decreased the amount of
    daily work people were required to do, leisure
    time increased and was increasingly used as a way
    to control the masses.
  • During Emperor Claudius reign (41-54 A.D.) Rome
    had 59 public holidays and 95 game days, and by
    354 A.D., there were more than 200 public
    holidays and 175 game days.
  • The reason for this was simple. As Romans became
    less occupied with work, they became increasingly
    bored and critical of the government. The
    government then attempted to pacify unrest by
    providing pleasurable experiences through
    spectacle and celebrations of holidays.
  • Bread and circuses, free food and
    entertainment, provided the framework for Roman

  • To hold peoples attention, leisure activities
    became increasingly hedonistic and shocking.
  • When battles between gladiators became less
    interesting, animals from foreign lands were
    brought in to become part of the savagery seen in
    the great coliseums.
  • When the scales of those battles became ordinary,
    artificial lakes were created by slaves who where
    then used to re-create bloody sea battles
    depicting a successful conquest.

  • This focus on the entertainment of the masses,
    instead of their participation, has lead some
    historians to argue that one of the reasons for
    the fall of the Roman Empire was its inability to
    deal with mass leisure.
  • This concern is often heard today in reference to
    current leisure habits. Increasingly, it appears
    that people are more content to be spectators
    than participants.
  • Some sporting events such as football and boxing
    also take on the appearance of a spectacle
    similar to that seen in ancient Rome. In fact, it
    isnt uncommon to hear the participants in these
    events referred to as gladiators

Middle Ages
  • When the Roman Empire eventually collapsed, the
    Catholic Church became the dominant structure in
  • The Catholic Church rejected the activities that
    the Roman Empire had accepted, including its
    hedonistic ways.
  • One example of this was the fact that people
    involved in theater could not be baptized.

  • The concept that idleness is the great enemy of
    the soul emerged, and doing nothing was thought
    to be evil.
  • The church wielded great influence during this
    time over the social order, consisting of
    nobility and peasants.
  • The clergy dictated societal values, whose
    adoption would lead to saving souls, the highest
    goal at the time.
  • Although the Catholic Church influenced what were
    acceptable and unacceptable leisure activities,
    so strict were many rules during the end of this
    period the church went through a period of
    renaissance where individuals within the church
    developed different perspectives.
  • This renaissance saw a renewed appreciation for a
    variety of leisure activities.

  • Spreading fro the 14th century in Italy to the
    16th century in northern Europe, this era saw
    power shift from the church to the nobility.
  • Previously ostracized by the church,. Artists
    were now supported and encouraged by the nobility
    to express their art.
  • Play was perceived to be an important part of

  • During the 16th century, Francois Rabelais
    (1490-1553) emphasized the need for physical
    exercise and games.
  • Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (1533-159) supported
    the concept of unity of mind, body and spirit,
    opposing the medieval ideal of separation or
    dualism of the mind and body.
  • John Locke (1632-1704) was so concerned with play
    as a medium of learning that he made the
    distinction between play and recreation.

  • Recreation was not being idle, it provided a
    specific benefit by easing and helping to recover
    the people wearied by their work.
  • Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) advocated for
    the full freedom of physical activity rather than
  • It was during the renaissance that an increased
    interest in play, both as a form of popular
    entertainment and as a medium of education,

  • Three types of parks emerged during the late
    Renaissance under the nobility
  • Royal hunting preserves providing wild-game
  • Formal garden parks where participants viewed
    their surroundings much as you would experience a
    museum, and
  • English garden parks with greater emphasis on
    interacting with the environment through
    activities such as picnics and other restful
  • These parks, developed by the nobility for their
    own use, were often seen as symbol of status.
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