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Edited by Samuel Cameron
Chapter 16: Leisure Time, Cinema and the Structure of Household Entertainment Expenditure, 1890–1940
1 Gerben Bakker INTRODUCTION At the end of the nineteenth century, in the era of the second industrial revolution, falling working hours, rising disposable income, increasing urbanization, rapidly expanding transport networks and strong population growth resulted in a sharp rise in the demand for entertainment. Initially, the expenditure was spread across different categories, such as live entertainment, sports, music, bowling alleys or skating rinks. One of these categories was cinematographic entertainment, a new service, based on a new technology. Initially it seemed not more than a fad, a novelty shown at fairs, but it quickly emerged as the dominant form of popular entertainment. This chapter argues that the take-off of cinema was largely demand driven, and that, in an evolutionary process, consumers allocated more and more expenditure to cinema. It will analyse how consumer habits and practices evolved with the new cinema technology and led to the formation of a new product/service. These issues provide insight into how new consumer goods and services emerge, how the process works by which certain new goods become successful and are widely adopted while others will disappear and are forgotten forever. This chapter examines the structure of household expenditure in Britain, France and the United States at the cross-section for benchmark years to get insight into the structure of demand, the differences between countries and expenditure items, and the way in which these affected the industrialization of entertainment. THE INCREASE IN LEISURE TIME Time and money both affected entertainment consumption.2 People had to decide...
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