Leisure in the Great Society

December 9, 1964

Report Outline
Dilemma in Less Work and More Leisure
March of Leisure: Past, Present, Future
Plans for Utilization of Leisure Time

Dilemma in Less Work and More Leisure

When president johnson signed the bill authorizing a new National Commission on Technology, Automation and Economic Progress, he said that automation should be a boon to the working man rather than a “job destroyer.” Advancing technology, if properly directed, would in time create new jobs to replace those eliminated. Authorities in the field generally accept this optimistic view. But they are convinced that, no matter how many new jobs come into being as a result of automation, there will be a continuing shrinkage in the total number of man-hours worked even when the economy is going at full blast.

Underlying the new commission's projected study of the impact of automation on American life, therefore, will be new and troubling questions pertaining not to work but to leisure. These questions include: How much leisure time will the normal work period of the future provide? Will a larger percentage of the population have to dispense with gainful employment entirely? Will the average man have more leisure than he knows what to do with? What will be the moral, political and social consequences of the increase in free time? What measures should be taken now to prepare for a day when the paid job may cease to be the main focus of the average man's life?

Similar questions will come before a newly formed group of scholars at Harvard University which is embarking on a 10-year study of “the social impact of technological change and automation.” Announcing a $5 million grant for this study from the International Business Machines Corp. last May 15, Thomas J. Watson Jr., I.B.M. chairman, explained the reason for undertaking the project: “Today's technology creates extraordinary possibilities for conquering disease and poverty, for raising living standards and increasing leisure. At the same time, it confronts us with problems of considerable magnitude.” Watson said he hoped the Harvard study would “help generate the understanding and ideas our country needs to get the full benefits of technology while minimizing- disruption and hardship.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Work Week
Jun. 12, 1987  Part-Time Work
Feb. 28, 1973  Leisure Business
Apr. 19, 1972  Productivity and the New Work Ethic
Aug. 11, 1971  Four-Day Week
Dec. 09, 1964  Leisure in the Great Society
Jun. 13, 1962  Shorter Hours of Work
Feb. 17, 1960  Sunday Selling
May 08, 1957  Four-Day Week
Dec. 03, 1954  Shorter Work Week
Mar. 05, 1948  Hours of Work and Full Production
Jul. 05, 1944  Hours of Work After the War
Nov. 16, 1942  Hours of Work in Wartime
Jan. 17, 1936  The Thirty-Hour Week
Mar. 10, 1932  The Five-Day Week and the Six-Hour Day
May 23, 1929  The Five-Day Week in Industry
General Employment and Labor