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Do Leisure Activities Make People Happier?: The Role of Social Capital and Social Leisure(in Korean)

Eun Young Nam | Institute of Social Development and Policy Research, Seoul National University

Jaeyeol Yee | Department of Sociology, Seoul National University

Minhye Kim | Department of Sociology, National University of Singapore


This study attempts to explore the effects of various types of the leisure activities on

happiness. Some types of the leisure activities, such as socializing, team-sports, and cultural activities, enable people to associate and communicate with each other, thus harboring social participation and solidarity. We define such activities which contribute to the accumulation of social capital as relational leisure. One special type of relational leisure is volunteering, or social leisure, which aims to contribute to the social value as well as

personal satisfaction. The empirical analysis of leisure activities of ordinary people reveals

that social groups show different leisure profiles depending on their age, education and

income. Educated young middle class are more active in cultural and sport activities, while

lower class are confined to less active leisure activities such as relaxation and nap. One

interesting finding is that those who are active in social leisure are recruited mainly from

those who are also very active in relational, cultural or sports-related leisure activities.

Another finding is that those who are active in relational and social leisure report higher

level of happiness. Special attention is given to the effect of the volunteer works. Those

who are active in volunteering usually report higher level of happiness in their life. This

study shows that there is a strong correlation among the social leisure, the relational

leisure, and happiness: those who are exposed more on the relational leisure activities

cultivate more sensitivity to the relationship with others, and thus they participate more in

the volunteer works, eventually achieving more happiness. This research finding implies

that social leisure enhances the level of happiness of people as it satisfies personal interest

as well as public social benefit.


Key words: social capital, leisure type, social leisure, volunteer work, happiness


Korean Journal of Sociology (2012), 46(5), 2012.10, 1-33(34 pages)