chapter  2
The Control of Leisure
WithJohn Wilson
Pages -20

This chapter describes how leisure has been politically controlled and manipulated to serve the interest of state and local authorities and those they serve. It looks both at the control of leisure and at leisure used as social control. Free time for factory workers was a threat to the middle class, however much they welcomed the relief from toil on humanitarian grounds. Most working men were seen as lacking the education and elementary accomplishments of ‘social economy’—the proper management of time and money—which would qualify them for status as free agents in the new world of leisure. The political regulation of leisure was thus as much an effort to keep the middle class true to its own principles as it was an effort to incorporate the new working class. The growth of cities in England intensified the struggle for control over leisure spaces. For the urban working class, the streets were the most accessible areas for play.