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Leisure Activities of Dual-Earner Parents: Indoor Life in Middle-Class Southern California Homes

Margaret Beck


Jeanne E. Arnold

UCLA Sloan Center on Everyday Lives of Families
Working Paper No. 65


This paper addresses the indoor leisure activities of middle-class, dual-earner parents, including where leisure occurs within the home, the types of leisure activities they select, and gender differences in leisure. Data were gathered for 32 families by a team of ethnographers at the Center on Everyday Lives of Families (CELF) of the University of California, Los Angeles, between 2002 and 2005. We rely most heavily on scan sampling data, in which the location and activity of each family member was recorded every 10 minutes. Much parental indoor leisure time was spent watching television or reading (70%), primarily in the living room or family room. Most of the observed gender differences emerged not in the activities themselves, but in when spouses found indoor leisure time and how much time they enjoyed. The size of the average “leisure gap,” which favors fathers, may be skewed by a small number of families with marked inequalities in leisure time. Both mothers and fathers experienced most indoor leisure time in short, fragmented episodes, although fathers were slightly more likely to have longer periods of leisure.

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