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Old 01-26-2013, 08:08 PM
ac05 ac05 is offline
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 58
How hunter-gatherers spend most of their leisure time

What hunter-gatherers do during most of their leisure time? Is it playing games, singing, storytelling, or dancing? It makes you wonder. Does anyone know?
Old 01-26-2013, 10:08 PM
Hello Again Hello Again is offline
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: I am Queens Boulevard
Posts: 14,142
Preparing food, making things in various ways - weaving, making pottery, making and decorating clothing. processing skins, making dyes and pignments, preserving foods (like drying fish or jerky), improving/repairing their home and its furnishings, religious activities (praying, fasting, dancing, making religious objects, etc)

Plus, napping, gossiping, flirting, and fucking.

Last edited by Hello Again; 01-26-2013 at 10:10 PM.
Old 01-26-2013, 10:48 PM
Blurgle Blurgle is offline
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 7
Originally Posted by ac05 View Post
What hunter-gatherers do during most of their leisure time? Is it playing games, singing, storytelling, or dancing? It makes you wonder. Does anyone know?
There are still many hunter-gatherer societies extant and some current and past hunter-gatherer societies have been extensively researched, so yes, there is a large body of work regarding leisure activities among hunter-gatherers.

The consensus nowadays is that most hunter-gatherer societies had more time for leisure than agricultural or modern societies. Some sociologists call hunter-gatherer societies the first "affluent society" for that reason: they could meet their needs without much hard work because their needs were so little, which left them the freedom to spend more of their time doing what they wanted to.

Peter Gray of Boston College contends that hunter-gatherers' work was itself playful to the point that hunter-gatherers might not differentiate between "work time" and "leisure time" in the way we do. (Which makes sense: hunting and basketmaking, to give two common "jobs" in hunter-gatherer societies, can be leisure activities even now.)

That said, each culture is very different in specifically which leisure activities they enjoyed. Most, including the Hazda, were/are huge on storytelling, dance, and music. Some, like the Inuit, spent a lot of their leisure time on religious observances of various sorts. And then there are the old standbys: sex, gossip, daydreaming, and sleeping. Hunter-gatherers don't have to keep bankers' hours and they often sleep in short naps throughout the day, especially if the weather is good for dusk or dawn hunting.

Not to say that hunter-gatherer societies are that wonderful to live in: from the life expectancy, infant mortality, and medical/dental standpoints it's a pretty horrific life, and one where there isn't much pity.

Some quick references for you:

This blog post, which contains a LOT of references:

This NatGeo article on the Hazda:

Peter Gray's essay:


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