Emerging Issues And Unanswered Questions
This review of the extant research on family and leisure points to a number of issues, questions, and directions for future scholarship in this area including:
- Leisure and family are historically situated concepts that cannot be separated from culture and society; that is, one's experience and understanding of leisure and family are constantly being constructed and reconstructed, challenged and transformed in the interactions of individuals and contexts. It will be important for future researchers to be aware of the diversity of people's experiences of leisure and family and to explore this diversity in the way the research is conceptualized, the questions that are asked, and the populations that are studied (e.g., Acock and Demo 1994; Cheal 1991).
- Jennifer Mactavish, Stuart Schleien, and Carla Tabourne (1997) in their study of patterns of recreation in families with developmentally disabled children, asked the question, "Who is involved in family recreation most of the time?" They found that family leisure participants included both immediate family members and extended family members, all members of the family and subgroups (e.g., children only, parents only, one parent and all children) of the family. The most common pattern was subgroup leisure activity. However, much research on family leisure does not ask who is involved and in not asking this question what is meant by family leisure and the importance of family leisure is obscured.
- Most of the research on leisure and family has focused on adult perceptions and experiences. In one of the few studies that asked both parents and children about their perceptions of family leisure, Reed Larson, Sally Gillman, and Maryse Richards (1997) found that adolescent children experienced lower intrinsic motivation and less positive affect than parents during family leisure. Future research needs to further explore children's perceptions of family leisure, why they hold the perceptions that they do, and the developmental consequences of their experiences of family leisure.
- Although research has documented the interactive relationship between leisure and family, there has been little exploration of leisure as the expression or the creation of family. Research on serious leisure has revealed that in such leisure small worlds are created which provide individuals with a valued sense of identity and community (Stebbins 1992). An interesting question is to what extent leisure is pursued to create family—or whether families are created as a consequence of leisure. This question may become particularly relevant as 1) divorce, never marrying, and not having children become recognized as choices that people make rather than misfortunes that befall them; and 2) life expectancy continues to be extended and years not living within one's family of procreation increase.
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VALERIA J. FREYSINGER