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Century of the Leisured Masses: Entertainment and the Transformation of Twentieth-Century America
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  • David G. Surdam, University of Northern Iowa
American living standards improved considerably between 1900 and 2000. While most observers focus on gains in per-capita income as a measure of economic well-being, economists have used other measures of well-being: height, weight, and longevity. The increased amount of leisure time per week and across people's lifetimes, however, has been an unsung aspect of the improved standard of living in America. In Century of the Leisured Masses, David George Surdam explores the growing presence of leisure activities in Americans' lives and how this development came out throughout the twentieth century. Most Americans have gone from working fifty-five or more hours per week to working fewer than forty, although many Americans at the top rungs of the economic ladder continue to work long hours. Not only do more Americans have more time to devote to other activities, they are able to enjoy higher-quality leisure. New forms of leisure have given Americans more choices, better quality, and greater convenience. For instance, in addition to producing music themselves, they can now listen to the most talented musicians when and where they want. Television began as black and white on small screens; within fifty years, Americans had a cast of dozens of channels to choose from. They could also purchase favorite shows and movies to watch at their convenience. Even Americans with low incomes enjoyed television and other new forms of leisure. -- Provided by publisher
  • Leisure -- United States -- History -- 20th century; Leisure class -- History -- 20th century; Leisure industry -- United States -- History -- 20th century;
Document Type
Publication Date
Oxford University Press
Department of Economics
Object Description
xviii, 305 pages ; 24 cm
Citation Information
David G. Surdam. Century of the Leisured Masses: Entertainment and the Transformation of Twentieth-Century America. New York, NY(2015)
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