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This article deals with the evolution of leisure activities during the “Golden Decades”, a period of economic growth and sociocultural shift. Three thesis—from which a set of working hypothesis are deduced—are scrutinized: the intensification of leisure activities, especially of those associated with self-fulfilment ; the development of a new pattern of behaviors among the retirees; the democratization of the participation.
The empirical study is based on the analysis of data of two cohorts, the first one born between 1905 and 1914, and the second one born between 1920 and 1929. Their behaviors are observed when they are at mid-life (around 45) on the one side, and when they are 65 to 74 years old, on the other. Seven categories of leisure are considered, and both an intercohort and a longitudinal comparison are used.
The results confirm the first thesis as well as the second one ; in the latter case however, they indicate the need to precise and modify its formulation. On the other hand, if they indicate the democratization in the practice of sport and physical exercise, they also show the persistence of social inequalities in the ones of travelling and and of going to entertainment, as well as the emergence of new cleavages in other leisure domains.

Jean-François Bickel
Christian Lalive d’Épinay
Nathalie Vollenwyder
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