chapter  4
Leisure in the Liberal State: the United States
WithJohn Wilson
Pages -77

All democracies assume that there is some private area of human life which should be beyond the scope of legal government regulation. Leisure is firmly placed in this sphere, protected from political influence. According to the philosophy of liberalism, the state is the institution that is charged with protecting persons and property and, simultaneously with guaranteeing maximum freedom from interference to each individual. Recall the federalist principles upon which the American political system is based, combine this with popular support for individualist values and take into consideration the strength of the private sector, and it should come as no surprise that the state is probably less associated with leisure in the United States than in any other democracy. Combined with a powerful patronage system at the municipal level, judicial activism and firm subscription to the philosophy of possessive individualism, the federalism results in a ‘hands-off’ policy by the government when it comes to leisure.