Front cover image for Planning voor vrijheid : een historisch-sociologische studie van de overheidsinterventie in rekreatie en vrije tijd

Planning voor vrijheid : een historisch-sociologische studie van de overheidsinterventie in rekreatie en vrije tijd

T. Beckers
Based upon Karl Mannheim's fourty years old concept of planning for freedom, this study describes and analyses the ideological roots of leisure policy and recreation planning in the Netherlands, between 1870 and 1970. A retrospect upon history to illuminate the future.The study has been divided into three periods:Part 1 1870 - 1920;Part 2 1920 - 1950;Part 3 1950 - 1970.In each part attention has been paid to three related subjects:a. the development of labour time and free time;b. leisure and recreation as social problems;c. the genesis and growth of the planning of outdoor recreation.Sources for the study were found in the archives of the depart ments of Education, Arts and Science and Culture, Recreation and Social Welfare, the International Institute for Social History and the National Bureau for War Documentation; in the records of the national parliament; in interviews with key-persons and in literature.The idea of a planning for freedom represents an actual paradox and dilemma in the Welfare State. Can individual freedom and self actualization as central values in postindustrial society be compared with the need for control and regulation of the capitalist state?The political approach is a weak and neglected dimension in leisure studies although leisure and recreation are normative concepts, constructions of professional and intellectual elites. Leisure and recreation are abstractions from common experience and belong to a language which is that of an observer or reformer, not of the participant.The word 'rekreatie' was introduced into the Dutch language in the 16th century by the Rhetoricians, who imitated it from the French 'récréation' and used it in their sophisticated vocabulary to indicate pleasure, fun and feast. From the 18th century onwards it has also been used for a limited parcel of time and place in a religious and military setting. Time and place for regeneration. This was also the prevailing meaning during the rise of industrial capitalism in the last quarter of the 19th century.In the early twenties of the 20th century 'rekreatie' was intro duced into the technical language of physical planning and the movement for the nature-conservation by Cleyndert. Recreation Im plies outdoor recreation, back to nature, an ideology rooted in the enlightenment and a planning concept imitated from the example in the United States.In Dutch there is only one word to indicate free time as well as leisure: 'vrije tijd'. The phenomenon is as old as capitalism and bourgeois culture, the word is much younger than 'rekreatie'. Since the second part of the latest century 'vrije tijd' means time free from labour and other obligations and duties and free for discre tionary activities. This study stresses the interdependence be tween the genesis of leisure, the development of the nuclear fam ily and the rise of a capitalist economy and state and bourgeois culture. This interdependence resulted into:a. temporal segregation (separation between labour time and free time);b. physical segregation (separation between public and private domain);c. institutional segregation (separation between work and lei sure).1870 - 1920 . During this period the fight for free time is part of the striving for emancipation of the working class. The right to private time which the patriciate has known since the beginning of the development of capitalism, has to be fought against the resistance of entrepreneurs and the state. These two motivate their resistance with arguments pointing at the danger of a decrease in production and the fear for misuse of free time. Especially immoral and undisciplined behaviour in public is a source of great concern. Together with increasing free time the striving of the bourgeois elite increases to civilize leisure time behaviour of the lower classes according to their own ideal of reasonablesness and morality. In bourgeois ideology an important reasonable argument is formed by back to nature as a reproduction of the work force. During this period the role of the state was limited to the classical liberal tasks.Maintaining morality and public order are part of these tasks and in its turn this characterizes state intervention in leisure and recreation. In the cities the planning of recreation is developed at the turn of the century. Apart from philantropic and health motives an important role is played by the fact that by means of recreation the balance disturbed by urbanisation and industrialisation may be restored.1920 - 1950 . Between the twenties and the early fifties workers protection as a motive for working shorter hours, with the exception of some special professions. gets into the background. A second motive, the right to free time for recreation and education of the workers, is mainly expressed by the gradual increase of paid holidays. A third motive, the contribution to the creation of employment is much discussed during the economic recession of the thirties but not realised in policy. During this period the problem of leisure was discussed and written about on a large scale for the first time. The definition of the problem is characterized by a strong ambivalence. On the one hand the elite welcomes leisure as a possible means to progress, on the other hand suspicion and fear remain. The first empirical social research in 1936 proves that increased leisure time does not lead to misuse the dislocation of society or decline of our civilisation.The bourgeois life style was rapidly expanding. Yet the elite's striving remains directed to warning and lifting. to fight the dangers of the public domain, of mass participation, passivity and commerce. Religion is the basis of the social organisation of public recreation. The nuclear family is considered the favourite and safest place for meaningful leisure. Because of the way in which the totalitarian state takes possession of the leisure field, the question whether the government is allowed to fullfil an active and directing role in this field, becomes of current interest. An abortive attempt, during the first years of the war, to model recreation and tourism according to a national-socialistic cut is followed by an active culture policy based on a socialistic ideology after the war. Though the sweeping ambitions for renewal have not been reached, in the governmental organisation the foundation has been layed for the adoption of recreation by the Welfare State. During this period planning of recreation reaches the national level. Ideologically this is due to the nature-conservation movement which, in its own fight, pleads for the importance of recreation. It gets support from architectural and town-planning circles. In politics the ideal of back to nature is only still born by socialism and translated into a concrete point in their programme.1950 - 1970 . During the fifties and sixties a fourth motive for working shorter hours becomes of current interest: the division of the increased productivity and prosperity. This holds both for the introduction of the working-week of five days in 1960 and for the legal arrangement of the right to holidays. Free time becomes time for private and individual consumption.The problem of leisure is defined as the gap between economic and technical progress and social and cultural adaptation. Yet, at about 1960, the discussion looses its demonstratively normative and moralistic tendency. More and more it is left to the individual in which way he wants to use his freedom. The process of deideologicalisation and individualisation are expressed by the propagation of leisure as an autonomous object for study and research, the withdrawal from the field by the government and the application of the liberal and utilitarian concepts of freedom of choice and need as a legitimation for recreation policy. This part of leisure enjoys a large interest. It is the fashion during the sixties. After the preparatory work of the "Rijksdienst voor het Nationale Plan" (Governmental Service for the National Plan) since 1941 and under the social pressure from nature conservation, and tourism, the national government develops a policy and planning for outdoor recreation. Consensus among political parties eases the admission of recreation as a matter of general interest into the Welfare State. The growth of free time, prosperity and mobility results into a mass rush to the country. The spatial problems and the lack of a social infrastructure ask for state regulation and state control. Seen to the background of back to nature idealism and anti-urbanism, a compensating and reproductive function is ascribed to outdoor recreation. Freedom of choice, self- actualisation and satisfaction of needs as a policy basis are restricted by the constitued order and the preservation of the social balance. With an appeal to freedom, in this planning for freedom the balance has dipped to planning for control.The study ends with a critical comment on the so-called leisure society. Three images of the future of leisure and work are distinguished:a. moralismb. elitismc. hedonismIn to-day's Dutch society labour is scarce and the work ethic is reviving. The increase of time free from labour was relatively modest in the past hundred years. The total yearly amount of in dividual free time appears to be less an achievement of modernity than a belated approximation of normality (Arendt). Between 1875 and 1975 free time increased from 98 hours a week till 127 hours. The number of official holidays increased from 7 in 1870 till 31 in 1980. A quite remarkable growth of 'free' time took place in a man's life or in society as a whole, as a consequence of economic, demographic and technological changes. Dutch society is moving to wards a new class-division: a decreasing 'working-class', with only a little leisure time, a large purchasing power and an active participation in public life at the one hand and an increasing 'leisure-mass' without work, decreasing consumption, withdrawn in the private sphere. A plea is held for a more equal distribution of work and leisure, individually and socially, for a holistic approach by broadening the concept of work and leisure and for a rational planning of social time.In the last chapter, in the ambivalent sphere of leisure and recreation, planning for freedom is specified in five dillemma's:1. repression versus stimulation 2. heterodoxy versus orthodoxy 3. elite culture versus popular recreation 4. public versus private domain 5. production versus reproduction State intervention in the recreation of the Welfare State should be a subject of a political and normative discussion, since the borders between and roles of commercial and public enterprise are vague
Book, 1983
Beckers, 1983