chapter  12
Work and leisure: Themes and issues
ByJOHN T. HAWORTH AND A. J. VEAL
Pages 18

It is always foolhardy to attempt to predict the future, but we are continually driven to do so. In the area of work and leisure we should be doubly cautious, in light of some ignominious past attempts, particularly predictions of the coming of a leisure society. The fallibility of such predictions is a persistent theme of a number of chapters in this book. The leisure society, as envisaged by various commentators, from the 1920s to the 1960s, was to be brought about as a result of the process of technological advances making human labour increasingly unnecessary. Goods would be produced in greater and greater abundance by automated processes, such that human society would be able to satisfy its needs with less and less expenditure of labour. As many of the chapters in this book suggest, such a future is no longer seen as imminent. Technology has certainly produced immeasurably more material wealth in the West, but the anticipated leisure society has not emerged – at least, not yet. Despite gains in leisure time achieved during the course of the twentieth century, paid and unpaid work is perceived as the dominant activity in most adults’ lives. And in recent years it appears to have become more rather than less dominant.