Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Culture and Leisure Constraints: A Comparison of Canadian and Mainland Chinese University Students

Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Culture and Leisure Constraints: A Comparison of Canadian and Mainland Chinese University Students

Article excerpt


Although "leisure constraints research is now well-established as a recognizable and distinct sub-field within leisure studies" (Jackson, 2005, p. 10), serious knowledge gaps remain. First, Crawford and Jackson (2005) contended that little research has been conducted on intrapersonal constraints (i.e., individual psychological qualities that affect the formation of leisure preferences) and interpersonal constraints (i.e., social factors that affect the formation of leisure preferences) compared with structural constraints (i.e., factors that occur after leisure preferences are formed, but before actual leisure participation takes place; Crawford & Godbey, 1987). As a consequence, what is commonly regarded as being an intrapersonal constraint may exclude factors found in contemporary socio-psychological theories. For example, Ajzen's (1991) theory of planned behavior (TPB) and Deci and Ryan's (2000) self-determination theory (SDT) are well established in social psychology (see, for example, Armitage & Conner's, 2001, meta-analytic review of the TPB and the 2000 special issue on SDT), but little attention has been given to how these two theories could further our understanding of intrapersonal constraints. On the other hand, Mannell and Kleiber (1997, pp. 336-341) have suggested that the TPB's variables of attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control could affect the formation of leisure preferences, and that needs-such as, we presume, those found in SDT-may also affect leisure preference formation.

Second, there has been little research on how intrapersonal (as well as interpersonal and structural) constraints may be similar or different across cultures. Shaw and Henderson (2005) stated that, "research involving people of different cultural backgrounds would greatly enhance the constraints literature" (p. 31), while Chick and Dong (2005) argued that, "the disregard of culture as an independent variable in the study of leisure constraints is itself highly constraining" (p. 179). Unfortunately, this research lacuna is not uncommon in leisure studies, as evidenced by Valentine, Allison, and Schneider's (1999) findings and their subsequent appeal for a shift toward a more international perspective. As Valentine et al. stated, many benefits would accrue from this type of research, including the "opportunity to test and validate the generalizability of leisure phenomena and constructs" (p. 242).

Although determining whether different leisure constraints are applicable across cultures is important, ascertaining whether these constructs are similarly structured is equally crucial. Crawford, Jackson, and Godbey (1991) held that the three types of constraints are organized sequentially and hierarchically, from intrapersonal to interpersonal to structural constraints. Raymore, Godbey, Crawford, and von Eye's (1993) empirical research supported this ordering of effects, although other studies have been more equivocal (e.g., Chick & Dong, 2005; Gilbert & Hudson, 2000). Thus, further examination of Crawford et al's. (1991) hierarchical leisure constraints model, both in terms of its general explanatory ability and cross-cultural applicability, seems warranted.

This study extends previous research on leisure constraints by developing a new, theory-based, inventory of intrapersonal leisure constraints items using the theory of planned behavior and self-determination theory as guiding frameworks, and then using the inventory to assess the cross-cultural validity of the hierarchical model of leisure constraints (Crawford, et al., 1991). These objectives are accomplished by comparing how perceptions of 10 intrapersonal constraints and perceptions of intrapersonal, interpersonal, and structural constraints affect starting a new leisure activity among Canadian university students in Canada and Chinese university students in Mainland China.

Literature Review

Intrapersonal Constraints

According to Ajzen's (1991) theory of planned behavior (TPB), an individual's behavior is largely dependent upon his or her intention to perform that behavior which, in turn, is determined by: (a) the person's attitudes toward the behavior, both affective (e. …

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