The distinction between leisure and unavoidable activities is not a rigidly defined one, e.g. people sometimes do work-oriented tasks for pleasure as well as for long-term utility. A distinction may also be drawn between free time and leisure. For example, Situationist International maintains that free time is illusory and rarely free; economic and social forces appropriate free time from the individual and sell it back to them[clarification needed] as the commodity known as "leisure". Certainly most people's leisure activities are not a completely free choice, and may be constrained by social pressures, e.g. people may be coerced into spending time gardening by the need to keep up with the standard of neighbouring gardens.
Another concept of leisure is social leisure, which involves leisurely activities in a social settings, such as extracurricular activities, e.g. sports, clubs.
Time available for leisure varies from one society to the next, although anthropologists have found that hunter-gatherers tend to have significantly more leisure time than people in more complex societies. As a result, band societies such as the Shoshone of the Great Basin came across as extraordinarily lazy to European colonialists.
Workaholics are those who work compulsively at the expense of other activities. They prefer to work rather than spend time socializing and engaging in other leisure activities.
Men generally have more leisure time than women. In Europe and the United States, adult men usually have between one and nine hours more leisure time than women do each week.
Free time has potential for youth development, which is influenced by parental attitudes of interest and control, mediated by adolescent motivational style.
Social leisure involves leisurely activities in a social settings, such as extracurricular activities, e.g. sports, clubs. There are many benefits that come from social leisure, such as the development of character, self-identity, and understanding of a communal setting or hierarchy. One key ingredient of social leisure that tends to be overlooked is the concept of mealtime being an important part of social leisure. It is during mealtimes where many individuals develop their social skills and character that defines an individual.
The relation between social leisure and mealtime, which is essentially the act accompanied with food, is uncanny. Both are used as a form of socialization, both develop character as well as create development in youth, and both help create social capital, these similarities are what make food a form a social leisure. Food, the main ingredient in mealtime, also shares this similar quality of self-identity through development and socialization, making food another positive form of social leisure.
^Goodin, Robert E.; Rice, James Mahmud; Bittman, Michael; & Saunders, Peter. (2005). "The time-pressure illusion: Discretionary time vs free time". Social Indicators Research73(1), 43–70. (JamesMahmudRice.info, "Time pressure" (PDF))
^Situationist International #9 (1964) "Questionnaire, section 12"
^Farb, Peter (1968). Man's Rise to Civilization As Shown by the Indians of North America from Primeval Times to the Coming of the Industrial State. New York City: E.P. Dutton. p. 28. LCCE77.F36. "Most people assume that the members of the Shoshone band worked ceaselessly in an unremitting search for sustenance. Such a dramatic picture might appear confirmed by an erroneous theory almost everyone recalls from schooldays: A high culture emerges only when the people have the leisure to build pyramids or to create art. The fact is that high civilization is hectic, and that primitive hunters and collectors of wild food, like the Shoshone, are among the most leisured people on earth."
^OECD Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Society at a Glance 2009: OE. See image at dx.doi.org