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Positive Leisure Science: Leisure in Family Contexts

  • Ramon B. Zabriskie
  • Tess Kay
Chapter

Abstract

This chapter examines the contributions that leisure can make to family life. It is essentially concerned with how leisure contributes to positive experiences and social relationships within the family unit and its implications for individual and collective well-being. ‘Family’ has risen to prominence as a focus for concern as patterns of diversity and change have become evident, with increased levels of family ‘breakdown’ eroding the traditional structures on which many welfare states were predicated and in which much moral worth has been invested. This chapter therefore examines the significance of leisure in individuals’ intimate relationships and family life and highlights its value to academic analysis as a focus for unpicking the dynamics of family at the micro level.

This chapter initially reviews the key findings of a long tradition of family leisure research which has consistently provided evidence identifying the significant role for leisure in family life. While early research shared several criticisms including its lack of theoretical underpinning and sometimes simplistic and operationalisation of family leisure, recent family leisure studies provide more sophisticated analyses. Qualitative lines of study identified family leisure as being particularly prominent in parent-child interactions and also playing a significant role in the partnerships of parents. Family leisure experiences were also identified as being valued for their contributions to the lives of individual family members, for their role in sustaining relationships between them and for the function they perform for the family as a whole. Scholars identified family leisure as being purposive in nature in which parents plan, almost with a sense of urgency, to recreate with family members with clear family outcomes in mind. The ‘fun’ and ‘pleasurable’ connotations of leisure should not obscure the importance of the opportunities they provide to fulfil the serious functions of generativity and intimacy.

This chapter moves on to focus considerably on a new theoretical model of family leisure that has suggested that different types of family leisure are directly related to different aspects of family functioning. The core and balance model offered a consistent framework from which the nature of the family leisure relationship could be examined among broad samples of families such as intact families, adoptive families, single-parent families and families with a child with a disability or a child in mental health treatment. Findings from this line of study illuminate how family leisure contributes to family functioning, communication and overall satisfaction with family life and give clear direction to professionals, policymakers and individual families on how to do it better.

Leisure in family contexts is not, however, unproblematic and is not a panacea for all family problems. Family members may struggle to access sufficient leisure time, be unlikely to prioritise family needs versus their own, or struggle with the stress and work involved in family leisure. This chapter concludes that the centrality of leisure in family interactions makes it highly significant for the emotional health and wellness of families and that a policy ‘investment’ that facilitates family leisure may therefore be fruitful.

Keywords

Family Life Family Functioning Family Cohesion Family Activity Adoptive Family 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Recreation ManagementBrigham Young UniversityProvoUSA
  2. 2.School of Sport and EducationBrunel UniversityUxbridgeUK

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