The Problem of Free Time: Uncovering the Normativity of Free Time in a Contemporary Work Context

Leonore Lee Krarup Belling & Benjamin Schmidt

Studenteropgave: Kandidatafhandlinger


This thesis investigates the concept of free time and is thereby guided by the question: what qualifies free time as free time? Inspired by the philosophy of Foucault, we approach free time as an inherently historical concept. Our thesis is divided into two main sections. In the first section, we investigate the concept of free time historically, responding to the research question: how has the concept of free time evolved historically, and what can the history of the concept of free time tell us about what free time is today? We answer this question by engaging in a historical analysis of the concept of free time that spans across four time periods – ancient Greece, ancient Rome, medieval times, and the industrialisation. We find that free time has never actually been free, instead it has always come with normative expectations. In the second section, we investigate the contemporary concept of free time, responding to the research question: what are the normative expectations towards free time today and how can the emergence of new work phenomena contribute to a better understanding of these normative expectations? To answer this question, we look at three separate cases in which one specific new work model, the four-day work week (4DWW), was introduced. We analyse the case material through two separate analyses: a problematisation analysis and an experience analysis. In the problematisation analysis, we find that free time is experienced as problematic as it is problematised as a means to achieve productivity and well-being. In the experience analysis we find that this experience emerges due to a complex interaction between knowledge, norms, and the way in which employees relate to themselves. Our thesis can be seen as an affirmation of recent publications, which pointed out that the ‘not-work’ definition of free time could lead to superficial thinking, as it argues that a more nuanced understanding of free time can enable organisations and management to engage with the introduction of new work models in more informed and qualified ways.

UddannelserMsc in Business Administration and Philosophy, (Kandidatuddannelse) Afsluttende afhandling
Antal sider108
VejledereRasmus Johnsen