Friday, April 17, 2020
Book review: THE HARRIED LEISURE CLASS by Staffan Burenstam Linder
THE HARRIED LEISURE CLASS (1970) by Staffan B. Linder
(Original Swedish title: DEN RASTLÖSA VÄLFÄRDSMÄNNISKAN)
Economics is often ridiculed as ”the dismal science,” but we need to understand the functioning of the global economy – especially in these troubled times – hard as it is. So give economists a chance.
In the late 60s, there was still an optimism about ever-increasing affluence... and then the Swedish economist Staffan Burenstam Linder asked: Will the amount of time we have to enjoy our affluence also increase? If not, what then?
His book THE HARRIED LEISURE CLASS is very accessible to layman readers. It lays out all the problems that arise when we get more and more stuff and services... but still have the same fixed amount of time available.
Which means more choices and decisions to make... but relatively less and less time for those decisions, for relaxing, for actually doing things, for maintenance and upkeep.
Some of the consequences he predicted can be observed now. He also predicts that technological advances may not ”solve” these issues as easily as we might think...
Here’s an everyday example: I spend almost as much time flipping through the growing content table on Netflix, trying to decide what to watch, as I do actually watching the content.
In the future I will almost certainly spend MORE time trying to CHOOSE what to watch, than I’ll spend WATCHING anything. (Or I could pay someone for making the choices for me... but then I’ll have to choose between a growing selection of people to make those choices and so on...)
Recommended ”food for thought” reading.
Also, this book might cause you to rethink how much consumer goods you really have time for...
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