Time, work and leisure

Life changes in England since 1700

By Hugh Cunningham

Time, work and leisure


  • Hardcover
  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-7849-9355-9
  • Pages: 240
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £12.99
  • Published Date: June 2016
  • BIC Category: HISTORY / Modern / 20th Century, HISTORY / Modern / 19th Century, Sociology: Sport & Leisure, Society & social sciences / General, Working Patterns & Practices, United Kingdom, Great Britain, HISTORY / Modern / 18th Century, Humanities / Social & cultural history, Modern History, History, Working patterns & practices, United Kingdom, Great Britain, Social & cultural history, European history, BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Labor, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Holidays (non-religious), HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain, HEALTH & FITNESS / Work-Related Health, HISTORY / Social History, Employment & Unemployment
  • Series: Studies in Popular Culture


This book traces the history of the relationship between work and leisure, from the 'leisure preference' of male workers in the eighteenth century, through the increase in working hours in the later eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, to their progressive decline from 1830 to 1970. It examines how trade union action was critical in achieving the decline; how class structured the experience of leisure; how male identity was shaped by both work and leisure; how, in a society that placed high value on work, a 'leisured class' was nevertheless at the apex of political and social power - until it became thought of as 'the idle rich'. Coinciding with the decline in working hours, two further tranches of time were marked out as properly without work: childhood and retirement.

Accessible, wide-ranging and occasionally polemical, this book provides the first history of how we have imagined and used time.


1. Introduction
2. Time and society in the eighteenth century
3. Leisure preference and its critics, 1700-1850
4. Leisure and class, 1750-1850
5. Work time in decline, 1830-1970
6. Men, work and leisure, 1850-1970
7. The leisured class, 1840-1970
8. Towards 'work-life balance'
Select bibliography


Hugh Cunningham is Emeritus Professor of Social History at the University of Kent

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