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Leisure - free time in the garden

Leisure time ( English leisure , French loisir ) is the period outside school or working hours that a person can dispose of independently . The Duden defines free time as “time in which someone does not need to work, has no special obligations; free time for hobbies or recreation ”.


Compulsory work or schooling are largely subject to external control . Leisure time, on the other hand, is self-determined and can therefore be organized through self-management within the framework of leisure time activities . Free time is available for relaxation from the exertions of work and other commitments. It is not only used for this, but also for a variety of other activities. This includes communicative, cultural, political, sporting, economic, religious activities or simply doing nothing. Free time is used for relaxation as well as personal development and the maintenance of social contacts , provided that these cannot be associated with work or school time. In his free time, people often devote themselves to their family, friends and hobbies such as gardening , home improvement , reading , making music , playing or for artistic and sporting activities. The functions of leisure are primarily regeneration , recreation , compensation , communication , interaction , participation and emancipation .


The word is a compound from free and time . It was first documented in writing in 1823 by Friedrich Fröbel with today's content.


Free time in ancient Rome
Playing cards and smoking, two “classic” pastimes ( Die Kartenspiel von Paul Cézanne , 1892–1895)

The time in the form of " leisure " ( Greek σχολή , schole ) has been utilized to Aristotle in his Politiká ago. In the Nicomachean Ethics he wrote: "We work to have leisure ...". The slaves and the Greek lower class also had free time, which they spent around 60 days a year at the Olympic Games or other festivals. For all Greeks, it was true that leisure time could not be used individually, but was in the public interest for the good of the state. The Romans took similar views , because here too the term for work ( Latin neg-otium , “Unmuße, Staatsdienst”) was derived from the term for leisure ( Latin otium ). The ruling class had the task of directing the state and could also pursue individual comforts. The plebeians also had individual free time due to economic development and slavery.

The German word school developed from the ancient Greek “schole” in 1270 , but the opposite of idleness prevails when it comes to compulsory schooling . The legal term “frey zeyt” in the sense of “market peace time” appeared for the first time around 1350 in German-language literature , including a safe conduct for market participants on markets between September 7th (one day before the birth of Mary ) and October 1st ( Remigius Festival ) was to be understood; the markets represented a kind of ban mile that protected visitors from violence and attacks. During that period, market travelers and visitors were assured of security from violence and disturbance of all kinds, including official measures such as arrests and subpoenas. “Frey zeyt” was then a temporary peacetime and is therefore neither in terms of content nor etymologically a preliminary stage of the modern concept of leisure. In 1657, Comenius recommended taking breaks from school while at school by distributing “work and rest ( Latin laborum et quietis ), activity and leisure ( Latin operarum et vocationum ) or vacation”.

In today's literal sense, leisure appeared for the first time in 1714. In 1714, the theologian August Hermann Francke understood the term “Freystunde” as the time to relax from class or study. In doing so, he took up the concept of leisure time in a pedagogically useful sense, but rather meant the break in lessons - which interrupts the lessons . In 1767, Simon Nicolas Henri Linguet assumed that “if the free day laborer rests for a moment, the dirty economy claims ... that he will pass it”. In 1823 Friedrich Fröbel used it to designate the time that the pupils of his educational institution in Keilhau were “released for use according to their personal and individual needs”. In 1865 the term first appeared in a German dictionary by Daniel Sanders . In 1885 Karl Marx saw a dialectical connection between work and leisure and saw in it "great value for the emancipation of mankind, for the recovery of humanity from alienation ".

The labor movements of the early 19th century sat down for the development of workers 'rights during the industrial revolution one, such as during the industrialization taking place workers' movement in Germany and the labor movement in Austria . Their aim was to strengthen workers' rights . This also included reducing working hours. Reasons for the progressive reduction in working hours from around 1850 were the health-threatening condition of the employed, some of whom had to work up to 16 hours, and above all the increasing automation of production , which led to a noticeable decrease in the need for human labor. A third reason should also be named “the fight for the eight-hour working day, which has been propagated since around 1860”. From 1873 the printer only had to work 10 hours a day. To this end, the trade unions proclaimed May 1, 1890 as "Labor Day" as a symbol of the desired reduction in working hours. The rationalization of work has enabled a gradual reduction in working hours and thus a development of leisure time since the 19th century. A “memorandum on the situation of workers employed in Hamburg's maritime shipping” from 1902 contrasted working hours and free time for the first time. Since 1908 women have only had to work 10 hours a day. In 1918 the 48-hour week was introduced and the aim was to develop daytime leisure time. When Bayer AG introduced the 40-hour week in almost all of its facilities in March 1931 , awareness of the free time gained increased.

The Duden published the words Freizeit und Freizeiten for the first time in its orthographic index in 1929 and defined them as follows: “(1) Time when someone does not need to work, has no special obligations; time freely available for hobbies or recreation; (2) [Multi-day] gathering for groups with certain common interests ”. German science dealt with the leisure topic from 1929 through the pedagogue Fritz Klatt . Klatt is considered the founder of leisure education as an independent single science , which is the object of knowledge dedicated leisure. In 1954, the pedagogue Johannes Zielinski followed , who dealt with the connection between leisure and education . The growing amount of leisure time has triggered several megatrends in Germany . Leisure time itself developed into a megatrend from around 1950 due to the spreading 40-hour week, followed by typical leisure activities such as tourism from around 1960, shopping from around 1980 and wellness after 1990.


A distinction between day leisure ( Feierabend including sleep ), weekly recreational ( weekend including free holidays ), annual leisure ( vacation , holiday ), leisure life stages ( children's camp , relief time , retirement ) or forced release time ( short-time work , unemployment , disability ). During the day leisure by itself overtime and commuting time is shortened frequently, the week recreational expanded steadily, especially with the widespread introduction of the 35-hour week . Annual leisure time increased due to statutory and collectively agreed vacation extensions.

Horst Opaschowski no longer sees leisure time as a conceptual dependence on work, but as "free time" characterized by free choices, conscious decisions and social action. He understands leisure to be the "temporally available life situations that are relatively free of basic physiological needs and economic, social and normative constraints ..." Based on this, he developed a concept that divides the lifetime in three time segments, depending on the degree of free availability over the Time, divides:

  • Determination time is the externally determined time, e.g. B. work, school;
  • The commitment period includes specific activities such as B. Eating, sleeping;
  • Disposition time is the freely available and self-determined time.

The free time is thus made up of commitment and disposition time.

Free time today

Leisure time on the Müritz

In 1983 there was still no particular awareness of leisure activities; because free time was considered to be the "remaining time that remains after you have done the work (...)". From 1990 at the latest, a development similar to industrialization, at least in its main features, can be observed: "Working hours have been visibly reduced in the FRG in the last few decades, but at the same time the work to be performed has been intensified". The so-called 35-hour week was first introduced in the steel industry in April 1995 . This initially resulted in a growing workload ( work suffering ) for the employed, and so leisure time again developed into an important compensation time . In addition, the leisure sector grew into an important economic factor.

In the meantime, the term leisure time is increasingly associated with leisure time periods and activities (e.g. summer leisure time, skiing leisure time). Various commercial travel and event organizers, as well as non-profit associations or churches, take advantage of this for advertising purposes. The strict, also spatial ( urban planning ) separation of the spheres of work and leisure is a phenomenon of modern times .

Leisure activities

After private television was introduced in January 1984 , German television consumption increased enormously and by 1990 was 90 percent of leisure time. In 2015, television was the undisputed favorite pastime of German citizens at 97 percent. Listening to the radio and telephoning (from home) follow in second place with 90 percent and third with 89 percent. In fourth place is internet use at 73 percent - this was the first time in 2015 that this was ahead of reading the newspaper.

Leisure and Health

The growing amount of leisure time was linked in society with the expectation of more opportunities to recover from work and everyday life. In the meantime, doctors and scientists complain of incorrect leisure time behavior with increasing stress factors , which lead to illnesses. The German Cancer Aid has cited excessive sunbathing and additional UV radiation in tanning salons as a chilling example with possible death consequences, which are blamed for an increase in skin cancer .

Free time and disability

The right to equal participation in the leisure life of people with impairments and disabilities, which is required in Article 30 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities , is currently not yet consistently guaranteed in Germany. Nonetheless, there are increasingly accessible leisure, sports and tourism offers that also enable inclusive participation.

Free time and volunteering

An essential value of leisure time is the possibility of using one's own leisure time for voluntary work or volunteering .

Right to free time

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees everyone the right to free time:

"Everyone has the right to rest and leisure and, in particular, to reasonable limitation of working hours and regular paid vacation."

- Universal Declaration of Human Rights : Article 24

In Germany, the right to individual organization of leisure time is also included in the area of ​​protection of general freedom of action and personal self-determination ( Article 2 (1) and (1 ) of the Basic Law ).

economic aspects

In economic terms, leisure time is the time in which the private household does not pursue any compulsory gainful employment . This means that free time is a complementary term to work: All time that is not working time is considered free time :


Working the more ( overtime , overtime ), the lower the time and vice versa. The increase in leisure time is accompanied by an increase in work productivity and vice versa , while the work performance remains the same .

Leisure time is a good with an original use that is only sacrificed for the purpose of generating income . In the case of labor supply , the good “leisure” is compared with the consumer goods that can be acquired through labor income. Work is defined in a utilitarian way as the suffering of work that one undergoes for the purpose of generating income. Accordingly, the use of leisure time decreases with increasing working hours. Here, one has to weigh up between the benefits of work (through earned income) and the benefits of leisure time. Employees make their time allocation decisions based on the present value of disposable income. If someone voluntarily chooses leisure time instead of wages, then they value the good of leisure more than the consumer good. If wages rise, so does the supply of work, because the opportunity costs of consuming leisure time rise.

Private households face an optimization problem in their goal of maximizing utility , which includes the following simultaneous decisions :

  • They must on the one hand determine the level of income by weighing the advantages and disadvantages of leisure or consumption and
  • on the other hand about the optimal use of this income for consumption

decide. If one assumes that consumption can only be carried out in leisure time, the possibilities for consumption are limited if there is little leisure time.

When wages rise, the private household is usually willing to limit leisure time in order to enjoy higher earned income. Later, however, the supply of labor will decline because a certain saturation in consumption is reached. Even the abnormal supply of work can increase as incomes decrease, although the recreational use decreases. First, as in the normal course, the labor supply decreases as the wage rate falls. However, if the wages to be achieved become too low to survive, the workers concerned are forced to work more in order to secure their livelihood . From the point of view of the unemployed, job search represents a loss of benefit from lost leisure time.


Critics of the modern conception of leisure are of the opinion that leisure is not really free time. It remains subordinate to work . You can't do what you want in your free time because you “have to” relax. “In the late industrial age, the masses are left with nothing but the compulsion to disperse and recover, as part of the need to restore the labor they have expended in the alienated labor process . That alone is the 'mass base' of mass culture. [...] It means extensive standardization of taste and receptivity ”. In 1993, the sociologist Gerhard Schulze argued in favor of excluding all obstacles exerting social compulsion from the concept of leisure time (such as compulsory consumption ).

See also


Web links

Wiktionary: Leisure time  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Ulrich Ammer, Freizeit, Tourismus und Umwelt , 1998, p. 1
  2. Verlag Dr. Th. Gabler, Gablers Wirtschafts Lexikon , Volume 2, 1984, Sp. 1611
  3. ^ Friedrich Fröbel, Continued message from the general German educational institution in Keilhau (1823), in: Hans Zimmermann (ed.), Fröbel's smaller writings on pedagogy: With previously unpublished material, Koehler's teachers' library, volume. 6, 1914, p. 236
  4. Reinhold Popp, Zukunft: Freizeit: Wissenschaft , 2005, p. 13
  5. ^ Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics , X, 7, 1177 b 5
  6. Cornelia Mikolaschek / Peter Mikolaschek, Leisure as an Object of Politics: Concepts of Parties and Associations , 1984, p. 24
  7. Horst W. Opaschowski, Pedagogy of Free Life , 1996, p. 100
  8. ^ Johann Amos Comenius, Didactica magna , 1657, cap. XV / 13
  9. August Hermann Francke, Brief Report on the Current Constitution of the Paedagogii Regii , 1714, p. 17
  10. Simon Nicolas Henri Linguet, Théorie des lois civiles , Volume II, 1767, p. 466
  11. Horst W. Opaschowski, Freizeit , in: Bernhard Schäfers (Ed.): Grundbegriffe der Soziologie, 2003, pp. 92–94
  12. ^ Karl Marx, Das Kapital , Volume 2, 1885, p. 268
  13. Hans-Werner Prahl , Sociology of Leisure Time , 2002, p. 100
  14. Reinhold Popp, Zukunft: Freizeit: Wissenschaft , 2005, p. 13
  15. Manuela Schöler, Do parents who are very active in leisure time have children who are very active in leisure time? , 2005, p. 28
  16. Werner Plumpe, Betriebliche Mitbestigungen in der Weimarer Republik , 1999, p. 226
  17. ^ Duden (orthography), Freizeit , 1929 ; accessed on July 21, 2013
  18. ^ Fritz Klatt, Freizeitgestaltung , 1929, pp. 1 ff.
  19. Johannes Zielinski, Leisure and Education , 1954, pp. 1 ff.
  20. Wolfgang Nahrstedt, Wellness Education: Increasing Health in the Wellbeing Society , 2008, p. 59
  21. Verlag Dr. Th. Gabler, Gablers Wirtschafts Lexikon , Volume 2, 1984, Sp. 1612
  22. Horst Opaschowski, Introduction to Leisure Science , 1996, p. 95
  23. Horst Opaschowski, Introduction to Leisure Science , 1996, p. 86 f.
  24. Hermann Giesecke, Life after Work - Origins and Perspectives of Leisure Education , 1983, p. 14
  25. Hans-Werner Prahl, Sociology of Leisure Time , 2002, p. 112
  26. Werner Schulz / Ludger Volmer (eds.), Developing instead of unwinding , 1992, p. 142
  27. Leisure Monitor 2015: The most popular leisure activities of Germans , Research News, Foundation for Future Issues - an initiative by British American Tobacco , 264, 36th year, August 27, 2015.
  28. Udo Wilken, Freizeit für alle - barrier-free , in: Renate Freericks, Dieter Brinkmann (Ed.): Handbuch Freizeitsoziologie.Springer VS, Wiesbaden 2015, 467-487.
  29. Universal Declaration of Human Rights on Wikisource
  30. cf. De Gruyter Rechtswissenschaft Verlags GmbH (ed.), Decisions in church matters since 1946 , 1997, ISBN 978-3-11-015463-4 , p. 126
  31. Werner Stuhlmeier / Gregor Blauermel, Arbeitsmarkttheorien , 1998, p. 49
  32. Bernd Woeckener, Microeconomics: An Introduction , 2014, p. 48 f.
  33. ^ Yoram Ben-Porath, The Production of Human Capital and the Life Cycle of Earnings , in: Journal of Political Economy Vol. 75, No. 4, 1967, p. 354
  34. Peter Bohley, Public Financing , 2003, pp. 206 f.
  35. Michael Heine / Hansjörg Herr, Volkswirtschaftslehre , 2013, p. 122 f.
  36. Edwin Böventer / Richard Illingworth, Introduction to Microeconomics , 9th edition, 1997, p 133
  37. ^ Ronnie Schöb, Tax Reform and Profit Participation , 2000, p. 52
  38. ^ Theodor W. Adorno / Hanns Eisler , composition for the film , 1977, p. 31 f.
  39. Gerhard Schulze, Entbegrenzung und Innenorientierung , in: Gegenwartskunde 4, 1993, pp. 405–419