A revised sociology of leisure: the social relationships and network structures of leisure behaviors
Stokowski, Patricia Ann, 1955-
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Conventional wisdom in the sociology of leisure maintains that "leisure" is what people experience as a result of recreation participation. Missing from our understanding of leisure as a socially significant phenomena is knowledge of how people construct leisure behaviors and meanings within the social context of their daily lives. This dissertation proposes a revised sociology of leisure, based on a unique blending of phenomenological and structural perspectives of sociological inquiry, which attempts to describe and explain the relational nature of leisure. The intersection of phenomenology and structuralism occurs at the point of the "social relationship," where social meanings about reality are cooperatively created and confirmed by people in communication interaction. Social relationships are the basic units of extended social networks of community, and so can be studied using techniques of social network analysis. Under the revised model, leisure is conceived as a "social context" which is characterized by the patterning of affective, non-instrumental relationships within social networks of community. When these relationships are activated for leisure, they provide the structure, order, and coherence for recreation activity participation and for the social creation of leisure meanings. The revised model of leisure developed in this paper is applied in an exploratory study of social networks and recreation activities in a rural town in Washington State. Results confirm that people make recreation choices based, to some extent, on their relational involvements within community social network structures. In addition, the meanings they attribute to leisure reflect the influence of egocentric relationships in network structures. The model illustrates the usefulness of a theory of leisure based on social relationships and meanings.
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