What constitutes leisure?

Is technology the chicken or the egg? asks interior designer Paula Ross in her column this week. Phenomenal changes to the way we live, and modern technology should provide us with more leisure time, but has it?
Is technology the chicken or the egg? asks interior designer Paula Ross in her column this week. Phenomenal changes to the way we live, and modern technology should provide us with more leisure time, but has it?

The latest ABS figures puts Melbourne CBD as the lowest birth rate in the state, with a .86 child to mother ratio. 

Gannawarra and Towong are the highest with whopping 2.41 and 2.4 respectively. Sarcasm aside, they're interesting stats. My generation of baby boomers are among the last of the big families, and I mean big. Some of my friends and in-laws come from families of 12 kids and 8 or 9 were common. In one generation we're not even achieving the replacement rate of 2.1 with the state average of 1.73, and in steady decline.

It boggles the mind when we compare modern family life to the five or six kids per bedroom of the 50s and 60s. People back then married young, and who can blame them. Mealtimes were a challenge. Providing up to 30 meals a day, everyday, without the aid of takeaway or frozen convenience foods and making everything from scratch … I mean just think about that for a second. 

Wood burning combustion stoves were standard equipment. Microwaves hadn't become popular until the 80s, fridges were tiny, most kitchens were tiny, with just enough room for mum to do her thing. Modern kitchens provide island benches in literally similar dimensions to the average 50s kitchen, for the 1.73 offspring.

Phenomenal changes to the way we live, and modern technology should provide us with more leisure time, but has it? Is technology the chicken or the egg?

From his 2011 study Leisure Time and Technology, Stefan Poser says; "leisure-time activities have been increasingly influenced by technology. Technology, as a consequence, has become more and more connected with both the economical conditions for the possibility of leisure and with the actual leisure-time activities themselves."

After first illustrating the evolution of "leisure" as a concept Poser explains the term 'Conspicuous Consumption' a term coined by  Sociologist Thorstein Veblen in his book The Theory of the Leisure Class; (as a public display of social status) in 1899. The term was used to describe obvious consumption as a mark of status by the nouveau riche to display their wealth. Motor cars and speed boats etc.

Leisure as a social concept has moved from the dictionary definition of 'having no work to do' to the pursuit of leisure activities now  cramming our calenders.

'I have to go to gym' or 'meet a friend for coffee' blur the edges of mandatory activities. No longer the privilege of the upper classes, we've used our free time to pack a lot in. Many would say that's a vast improvement on wash day circa 1950 when Nan still 'boiled the copper' … millenials may want to Google that term … yes, boiling clothes was a thing!