American men's relationship to leisure is complex, intersected by issues of race, class, religion, and regionalism. An early emphasis on community and public forms of leisure gave way, in the nineteenth century, to a starker differentiation between the domestic and public spheres, a separation that coded labor as masculine and leisure as feminine. The Protestant work ethic espoused by the expanding middle classes further valorized work while associating leisure with femininity and weakness—or with dangerous forms of masculinity. In the twentieth century, however, have alienation from the workplace and the growth of consumerism made leisure more central to American masculinity.

Public Leisure in Early America

In colonial America and the early republic, leisure activities centered on the community. Villages and small towns constituted early American society, and ...

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