Leisure has often been defined as a quality of experience or as free time. Free time is time spent away from business, work, job hunting, domestic chores, and education, as well as necessary activities such as eating and sleeping. From a research perspective, this approach has the advantages of being quantifiable and comparable over time and place.
Leisure as experience usually emphasizes dimensions of perceived freedom and choice. It is done for "its own sake", for the quality of experience and involvement. Other classic definitions include Thorsten Veblen's (1899) of "nonproductive consumption of time." Different disciplines have definitions reflecting their common issues: for example, sociology on social forces and contexts and psychology as mental and emotional states and conditions.
Leisure studies and sociology of leisure are the academic disciplines concerned with the study and analysis of leisure. Recreation differs from leisure in that it is a purposeful activity that includes the experience of leisure in activity contexts.
The distinction between leisure and unavoidable activities is not a rigidly defined one, e.g. people sometimes do work-oriented tasks for pleasure as well as for long-term utility. A distinction may also be drawn between free time and leisure. For example, Situationist International maintains that free time is illusory and rarely fully "free"; economic and social forces appropriate free time from the individual and sell it back to them as the commodity known as "leisure". Certainly most people's leisure activities are not a completely free choice and may be constrained by social pressures, e.g. people may be coerced into spending time gardening by the need to keep up with the standard of neighbouring gardens or go to a party because of social pressures.
A related concept is that of social leisure, which involves leisurely activities in social settings, such as extracurricular activities, e.g. sports, clubs. Another related concept is that of family leisure. Relationships with others is usually a major factor in both satisfaction and choice.