Generally speaking, the amount of available leisure time continually increased from the mid-19th century onward. This development culminated in Western Europe in the 1980s in the so-called leisure society, a phenomenon that is recognised today as being of both social and economic importance. The available leisure time presents a framework for a very wide scope of individual leisure activities that often reflect contemporary changes. The hallmark of most recreational activities, at least since industrialisation, seems to be the interpenetration of leisure and rapidly evolving technology. As this article demonstrates, technology is linked with the parameters of leisure and with the recreational activities themselves.
This article explores the spaces in which manufacturing work was performed from the fifteenth to the twentieth century. Workshops, manufactories and factories can be understood in their historical particularity by focusing on the way in which they were influenced by the technology and architecture of their time and characterized by the prevailing social relationships in which they in turn played a part. In their basic form such work spaces had existed since the early modern period. Nevertheless, the developments connected with them in no way ran linearly. Even decades after the first modern factories were established, work continued to be performed in traditional ways and spaces in many parts of Europe – even in the industrialized centres.