Économie et Statistique n° 352-353 - Social and professional time through time-use surveys
A Break in the March Towards the Leisure Civilisation
The advent of an economic-growth driven «leisure civilisation» posited by the sociologist Joffre Dumazedier in the early 1960s is fiction according to the observations based on the 1974, 1986 and 1998 Use of Time surveys. The time-honoured decrease in the number of hours worked came to a standstill between the last two surveys. Consequently, the number of leisure hours marked time in the case of employed workers and steadily rose in the case of individuals out of the labour force. Women were previously highly disadvantaged compared with men in terms of the length of their leisure time. This handicap was partly offset by the narrowing of professional and domestic working time disparities between men and women. Women's free time is growing at the cost of domestic work rather than professional work. Whereas the working classes had less leisure than the well off in 1974, the reverse is true today. However, this development is due mainly to the working classes' greater exposure to unemployment and the lengthening of periods of unemployment. The working hours determinant whose effect has changed the most is qualifications. It is now the most highly qualified who work the most and spend the least time on leisure. The differentiation between leisure practices based on level of education displays the same main characteristics in both 1974 and 1998: shows and outings, participation in associations, reading, playing games and music are the privilege of the most highly qualified. Television viewers are even more often school leaving certificate holders and without qualifications than in the past: their lead over baccalauréat holders and higher education graduates has grown.