Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

The Marginal User as the Justification for Public Recreation: A Rejoinder to Crompton, Driver and Dustin

Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

The Marginal User as the Justification for Public Recreation: A Rejoinder to Crompton, Driver and Dustin

Article excerpt


My original paper questioned if our interests as researchers or managers affected our epistemology-the concepts we use for analysis and discussion. I believe that they do, eventually supporting a bias against lower income groups in the delivery of recreation services. Clearly, the reviewers think differently and have vigorously and appropriately defended their mainstream positions within recreation research. I am indebted to Drs. Crompton, Driver, and Dustin for their thoughtful comments, but ultimately I remain unconvinced: I believe that, while there may be advantages to the mainstream positions, these concepts have other dimensions that the research community has been slow to expose in part because the concepts are interlinked in nonobvious ways and, in part, because they are grounded in social values that are so much the products of our time that we fail to question them.

In responding to the reviewers concerns it is tempting to quibble-to raise the sort of "Yes, buts" described by Dustin on a point by point basis. But to focus on such quibbles risks missing broader points important in the discussion. Therefore, my response centers on five main topics that cross the issues raised by the reviewers:

1. Are the concepts I describe really "frauds and deceits"? Are they as tendentious as I suggested?

2. Are managers, researchers and legislators really as biased as I suggest? Have I done our profession a significant disservice by suggesting they are not disinterested public servants?

3. What is the relationship between functions (my solution) and benefits? Aren't they really the same thing as both Driver and Crompton propose?

4. What does it mean for something to be a 'public' resource? How can investments in "public" recreation be justified?

5. While I've been critical, I seem short on solutions. What else can be done?

Among the many issues raised by the reviewers, these five seem crucial to me.

Frauds and Deceits?

All three reviewers suggest that I'm pushing the envelope to claim that the concepts I discussed are actually "frauds and deceits." Crompton, in particular, seems to have had a sort of semantic tantrum over the title, suggesting that it is scandalous and inappropriate in a scientific journal. I am unrepentant. While I admit that the title was aggressive, thirty-five years of reading technical literature in various fields has convinced me that all sorts of titles are used (for a similar example, see Learner, 1983). I have, however, included the traditional colon in the title of this response, which I trust will render it more acceptable. Crompton also suggests that I should have identified specific individuals and studies for criticism. While I could have done that, it seems inappropriate; why should a discussion of ideas require attacking someone directly? Unfortunately some ideas are so closely associated with specific people-benefits with Driver and marketing with Crompton, for example-that they are inseparable from their creators. This surely testifies to the immense impact these researchers have had on the field. But my goal was to discuss leading concepts and to suggest that there are other interpretations of them than the ones we typically see in the literature. Dustin, in particular, with his emphasis on the "Yes, but . . ." suggests that there is at least one other legitimate view of each concept. I believe this is true. Most important ideas in our field exist as arguments that support multiple viewpoints because they are grounded in assumptions. All I have done is to question some of those underlying assumptions. Consider overuse, We are perfectly willing to believe that overuse of national forests and national parks is a problem, a belief buttressed by all the research on crowding, capacities, and site deterioration. And that same research helps justify public opinion: "Parks in JEOPARDY", a brochure published by the National Parks Foundation (n. …

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