We talk now of a 'work/life balance', as though 'work' is something quite separate from 'life' and the meaning of both is self-evident.
How have we arrived at such a way of thinking? It's hard to find answers because, while there is endless newspaper coverage of the issue, no history of the work/life balance exists.
Especially for The Essay, Professor Hugh Cunningham explores the place that work has played in British lives from proto-industrialism in the C18th to post-industrialism in the C21st through five vivid chronological snapshots.
Each tells the story of a particular period while shedding new light on a contemporary juggling act that causes great stress to many, if not most, people in our society.
Throughout the series Hugh Cunningham returns to two themes: the impact of contemporary consumerism on our working lives and the difference between the work/leisure balance of the past - when the work-force was mainly male- and the so-called work/life balance of today - with women most taking the strain.
In Episode five, Hugh Cunningham argues that men have largely won their historic battle for a balance between work and leisure but that the oddly-named balance between work and life has still to be won by most women.
Producer: Beaty Rubens
While male workers have mostly achieved a work/leisure balance, women still struggle.
He argues that while men have largely won their historic battle for a balance between work and leisure, most women are struggling more than ever.
While male workers have mostly achieved a work/leisure balance, women are still struggling