Growth, Social Innovation and Time Use

  • Jonathan Gershuny
Part of the British Association for the Advancement of Science book series (BAAS)


I am going to talk about two competing views of the consequences of economic growth for human wellbeing. I shall consider the thesis of the late Professor Fred Hirsch, that there are ‘social limits’ to growth; that past some particular level of economic development, economic growth does not add to, and may even diminish, human welfare.1 And I shall introduce a somewhat contradictory argument, that through a particular sort of technical change, through a change in the way commodities are consumed, human welfare — or at least the welfare of some humans — can indeed be improved.2


Leisure Time Final Service Technical Change Service Function Social Innovation 
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  1. 1.
    F. Hirsch, Social Limits to Growth ( London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1977 ).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    This argument is covered in more detail in J. I. Gershuny and I. D. Miles, The New Service Economy ( London: Frances Pinter, 1983 );Google Scholar
  3. J. I. Gershuny, Social Innovation and the Division of Labour (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983 ).Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Taken from J. P. Robinson and P. E. Converse, ‘Social Change Reflected in the Use of Time’, in A. Campbell and P. E. Converse (eds), The Human Meaning of Social Change ( New York: Russell Sage, 1972 ).Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    J. P. Robinson, P. E. Converse, A. Szalai, ‘Every Day Life in Twelve Countries’, in A. Szalai (ed.), The Use of Time ( The Hague, Mouton, 1972 ).Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    J. P. Robinson, Changes in American Use of Time: 1965–1975 ( Communications Research Centre, Cleveland State University, 1977 );Google Scholar
  7. W. P. Knulst, Een Week Tijd ( Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau, Gravenhage, Netherlands, 1977 ).Google Scholar

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© The British Association for the Advancement of Science 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jonathan Gershuny

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