Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Development of the Serious Leisure Inventory and Measure

Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Development of the Serious Leisure Inventory and Measure

Article excerpt


For more than 30 years, Stebbins (e.g., 1982, 1992, 2001a) has explored the nature of serious leisure in a broad framework of interdisciplinary components. From this inductive research, six distinguishing qualities have emerged. We derived the SLIM from adherence to these six qualities as conceptualized by Stebbins (200Id) in which 18 dimensions were identified: perseverance, significant personal effort, a career course in the pursuit (progress & contingencies), identity with the pursuit, a unique ethos, and the durable outcomes of personal enrichment, self actualization, self expression (abilities & individuality), enhanced self image, self gratification (satisfaction & enjoyment), re-creation, financial return, group attraction, group accomplishments, and group maintenance.

Stebbins' (2001d) original research in serious leisure involved the ethnographic study of amateur scientists, comedians, athletes, singers, thespians and more. Continued research in serious leisure has addressed masters swimming (Hastings, Kurth, Schloder, & Cyr, 1995), bass fishing (Yoder, 1997), adult amateur ice skating (McQuarrie ¿Jackson, 1996), dog sports (Baldwin & Norris, 1999), motorsport events (Harrington, Cuskelly, & AuId, 2000), and soccer fandom (Jones, 2000), among others. Recent scholarship has addressed the serious leisure perspective and post-compulsory education (Jones & Symon, 2001), computer gaming (Bryce & Rutter, 2003), college football fandom (Gibson, Willming, & Holdnak, 2002), Civil War re-enacting (Hunt, 2004), adventure tours (Kane & Zink, 2004), sport tourism (Green & Jones, 2005), museum volunteering (Orr, 2006), and quilting (Stalp, 2006), among others. The qualitative approach to assessing one or more of the distinguishing qualities of serious leisure has provided a conceptual structure for understanding this form of leisure, but is ill-suited for developing a comprehensive psychometric approach to quantifying the dimensions of the framework. Lacking a measurement tool has hampered our knowledge of serious leisure, our understanding of contexts in which it may occur, and our ability to effectively and collectively distinguish serious from casual participation.

Thus, to address these issues, the authors propose and test the SLIM using data from convenience and target samples. We contend that future research will benefit from a uniform approach to studying the construct. Rather than highlighting only certain components of the serious leisure model, a sufficiently encompassing yet parsimonious approach can advance our knowledge of serious leisure beyond what can be achieved using exploratory/qualitative methods.

Conceptual Framework

Serious Leisure is defined as "the systematic pursuit of an amateur, hobbyist, or volunteer activity sufficiently substantial and interesting for the participant to find a career there in the acquisition and expression of a combination of its special skills, knowledge, and experience" (Stebbins, 1992, p. 3). In contrast, casual leisure is an "immediately, intrinsically rewarding, relatively short-lived pleasurable activity requiring little or no special training to enjoy it" (Stebbins, 1997, p. 17). Three types of participants compose the serious leisure perspective: amateurs, hobbyists and volunteers.

Serious Leisure Qualities

Perseverance. The occasional need to persevere through adversity distinguishes serious from casual pursuits. Stebbins (1981b, 2001d) found that participants occasionally had to persevere through obstacles such as fatigue, anxiety, injury, freezing cold, stage fright and embarrassment. Thus, perseverance may be conceived as persistence in a goal-directed behavior over time.

Leisure career. The second quality, leisure career, is defined as a personal course, or passage, in a leisure role "shaped by its own special contingencies, turning points, and stages of achievement or involvement" (Stebbins, 2001d, p. …

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