Western Europe : Leisure Society

With work hours limited to 8 hours a day and five days a week (in the 1970es and 1980es Trade Unions even promoted the 35 HOUR WEEK) and c. 25 paid holidays per year, with exceptionally good salaries and decreasing costs on the family (the older generation was taken care of by retirement insurance; and many families decided to have no children, a decision supported by contraceptives and a more or less liberal abortion legislation), there was both time and money for leisure activities.
To go on vacation, very often abroad, became a regular habit of the citizens of northern and central Europe; MASS TOURISM had a number of economical and ecological effects - tourism resorts sprang up (the tourist population of the Spanish island of MALLORCA exceeds, during the summer, its native population by 10:1). ADVENTURE TOURISM became popular, tourist groups travelling into remote regions, with an impact on local society and ecology.
An entire industry came to serve the needs of the tourist - camping equipment, caravans, swimwear. Multilingual tour guides, skiing, diving instructors, lifeguards etc. were in demand, the new job of ANIMATOR emerged.
Equally did an industry emerge/develop to serve the needs of the hobbyist - cameras, yachts, rowboats, bicycles, fishing rods etc. The number of hobbies, the quality of the products ever increased, the sports industry promoting new sports (Surfing, Snowboarding) in order to sell new equipment.

Leisure society was not meely a costly distraction of energy which could have been invested economically productive. Many a business grew out of the private hobby (passion) of an individual. The leisure society provided men to make the most of their creativity.


This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on August 2nd 2001, last revised on November 11th 2004

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