Cultural Influences on Work and Leisure Time

Cultural Influences on Work and Leisure Time

Johan Huizinga, a Dutch play-scholar defines “play” as a deliberate occupation or activity carried out within certain encoded limits of place and time, as per the principles that are freely accepted yet completely tying, having its objective in itself and accompanied by feelings of consciousness, joy and tension that completely differs from ordinary life (Huizinga, 1980). Huizinga states that “play” is differentiated from other activities because it is frequently genuine, completely captivating, and socially persuaded or motivated. Huizinga believes that a play must contain certain elements for it to be considered a “play” and not just another activity one does in the day. These elements include; “play” must have fun, is a serious pursuit that is bounded by rules, “play” has no moral function and is absolutely irrational, and that “play” is free (Huizinga, 1980). Huizinga says that “play” allows man to lift up things to higher spiritual sphere through the use of playful activities and language (Huizinga, 1980).

Play theory can be used to evaluate how culture influences play and leisure time. According to Andreotti (2000), “play” turns the dichotomy of leisure and work into nothing more than amusement that bears the same forms dominated by working life. In addition, “play” can be used to moderate the tensions created by variations in culture (Andreotti, 2000). This means therefore that culture determines how individuals from different cultural backgrounds interact as they carry out their activities within fixed limits of place and time, and according to principles that are freely accepted to the cultures. For example, the old generation that lived in the Eighteenth Century used to engage in naive activities to play and spend their leisure time. However, the modern generation inclines to technological advancements when they play and spend leisure time (Chtcheglov, 1958).


Andreotti, L. (2000). Play-tactics of the Internationale Situationniste. Winter, October 91, 36-58.

Chtcheglov, I. (1958). Formulary for a New Urbanism. Retrieved, November 23, 2014, from http://

Huizinga, J. (1980). Homo ludens: A study of the play-element in culture. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

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