Emerging Cultural Paradigms and Changes in Leisure Sciences

By Henderson, Karla A.; Bedini, Leandra A. | Parks & Recreation, January 1994 | Go to article overview

Emerging Cultural Paradigms and Changes in Leisure Sciences


Henderson, Karla A., Bedini, Leandra A., Parks & Recreation


The world is changing. Emerging concepts and theories from other fields offer an exciting opportunity for social and leisure scientists. The information gleaned from this research also has implications for new insights into human and leisure behavior that can be instructive to practitioners and educators as well as researchers.

The changes in society and the revolution in the social sciences was the theme of the 1993 NRPA Leisure Research Symposium Opening Session, keynoted by Barbara McDonald of the USDA Forest Service in Athens, Georgia. Participants in the opening session discussed how changes in science were affecting leisure research, leisure education, and leisure practice and policy. The implications of these changes can be seen in the 100 papers that were presented during the three days of the 1993 Leisure Research Symposium.

McDonald presented eight assumptions/points about the scientific community. These points described assumptions of research and potentials for change. Many of the subsequent papers presented at the symposium illustrated these changes. This Research Update will focus on some of the papers presented at the Leisure Research Symposium in light of the eight points that McDonald made.

While the Scientific Revolution has contributed a great deal to our understanding of the world, it also locked us into a rigid scientific method and way of thinking that reduced our ability to see the world in its complexity and diversity. It also fostered a heavy reliance on the use of dichotomies and a need to establish superiority.

A number of presenters demonstrated how non-traditional and multiple research methods can address emerging research questions. Gaylene Carpenter in her paper entitled "Perceptions of One's Leisure and Life Experiences within the Context of Major Illness and Death" described how using various research methods including both quantitative and qualitative approaches might help us learn about leisure during a particular part of the lifespan. This research project allowed a better understanding of the complexity of dealing with death and dying in how it affects one's leisure.

In a different context, Marcus Stemerding, Harmen Oppewal, Theo Beckers and Harry Timmermans presented a paper entitled, "The Application of Qualitative Methods to Identify Attributes and Constraints on Leisure Travel Decisions." They were interested in exploring the likely effects of policies aimed at influencing mode-choice behavior related to recreational trips. The paper describes the application of two qualitative methods to elicit influencing attributes, to examine the form of the decision making process, and to identify market segments in the context of park choice decisions.

Additionally, Mark Searle and Russell Brayley presented "Revising the Jackson and Dunn Model of Leisure Decision-Making: Accounting for Latent Demand." This paper challenged the current model by building a revised one of decision-making that could be tested across the lifespan.

The United States has internalized the principles of the scientific paradigm and has become the symbol for an extreme individualism, resulting in a culture characterized by ego, independence, self advancement, dichotomies and power over others.

Val Freysinger explored the community of a family as opposed to individualism to determine what leisure with children meant to mothers and fathers in her paper entitled, "Leisure with Children: What it Means to Mothers and Fathers." She found that leisure activities done as a unit were a way to affirm the family, a context for teaching and learning and a parental role responsibility. Other factors such as gender, marital status and marital satisfaction also affected the meaning of leisure activities with children.

Deb Jordan and Jane Mertesdorf also addressed the need for going beyond individualism as related to their paper on "The Effects of Goal Interdependence of Leisure Service Supervisors and Employees.

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