Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Award Recipient Uses Interactionism to Understand Leisure Behavior

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Award Recipient Uses Interactionism to Understand Leisure Behavior

Article excerpt

The Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt Award for Excellence in Research is given annually to the individual whose contribution to recreation and park research has advanced the cause of the recreation movement significantly. The recipient also must show dedication to the field that parallels the dedication and zeal exemplified by the two former U.S. Presidents for whom the award is named.

The 1994 Roosevelt Award winner, John R. Kelly, is a professor in the Department of Leisure Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Without a doubt, he has been one of the most productive scholars the field of leisure studies has ever seen. Using sociology as a discipline base, he has explored the various meanings of leisure in people's lives. His research has included topics related to the philosophy of leisure, family leisure, aging, and recreation trends. A summary of his 20 years of scholarship provides insights about how research helps us understand leisure behavior in new and expanding ways.

Kelly has authored nine published books - with one currently in preparation - and nearly 100 chapters and journal articles. Few students in North American universities complete their academic careers without encountering at least one of Kelly's works: Leisure, an introduction to leisure studies (Prentice-Hall, 1982); Leisure Identities and Interactions, a study of personal development and expression through the life course (Allen and Unwin, 1983); Recreation Business, an introduction to market-sector leisure provisions (MacMillan, 1984); Freedom to Be: A New Sociology of Leisure, a critical analysis of theory and research (MacMillan, 1986); Peoria Winter: Styles and Resources in Later Life, a study of coping with later-life change, funded by the National Institute on Aging (Lexington Books, The Free Press, 1987); Recreation Trends toward the Year 2000, an analysis of participation in recreation activities (Sagamore Press, 1987); Leisure (second edition) (Prentice-Hall, 1990); The Sociology of Leisure with G. Godbey (Venture Publishing, 1992); Activity and Aging (Ed.) (Sage, 1994); and Leisure (third edition) (Allyn and Bacon, in preparation).

A varied background has served as a basis for Dr. Kelly's scholarship. He received a bachelor's degree in philosophy from Monmouth College in 1951. He went on to earn Master's degrees in theology from Yale University, in social ethics from the University of Southern California, and in Sociology from the University of Oregon. He holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Oregon. And he has been on the University of Illinois faculty since 1975.

Not only has Dr. Kelly's work influenced students, researchers, and practitioners in North America, he also has been a keynote speaker at conferences around the world, from Europe and Brazil to Japan and Australia. He was the founding chair of the Commission on Research of the World Leisure and Recreation Association (WLRA) from 1981 to 1988. He is a member of the Academy of Leisure Sciences, a fellow of the Gerontological Society of America, and current chair of the Academic Commission of the WLRA International Centre of Excellence, a graduate study program located in the Netherlands.

What We Have Learned

from Kelly

The primary contribution Dr. Kelly has made to our field is in offering a deeper understanding of the meaning of leisure. In the course of over 20 years of research, he has offered numerous insights into this phenomenon called leisure. In Freedom to Be: Toward a New Sociology of Leisure (1986), Dr. Kelly examined how research questions about leisure behavior can be viewed within different sociological traditions. He showed how the symbolic interactionist perspective is particularly useful.

Although Dr. Kelly (1986; 1994) argues that symbolic interaction is not the only way to understand leisure, he has used it to present an alternative to structural-functional sociological approaches that fail to clarify the meaning of leisure in people's lives fully. …

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