Recreation Specialization and Related Concepts in Leisure Research Public Deposited

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  • More than 40 years have passed since Shafer (1969) challenged the existence of the “average camper.” Recognizing that participants in recreation activities are heterogeneous in their commitments and interests, researchers have emphasized the importance of differentiating users into meaningful homogeneous subgroups. In his seminal article, Bryan (1977) coined the concept of recreation specialization as one approach for identifying, describing, and planning for these subgroups of recreationists. He defined specialization as “a continuum of behavior from the general to the particular, reflected by equipment and skills used in the sport and activity setting preferences” (Bryan, 1977, p. 175). At one end of this continuum are novices or infrequent participants who do not consider the given activity to be a central life interest or show strong preferences for equipment or technique. The other end of this continuum includes more avid participants who are committed to the given activity and use more sophisticated approaches. Recreationists have been thought to progress to higher stages along this continuum reflected by increasing skill, equipment, participation, and commitment (Bryan, 1977), although this assumption has come under some scrutiny (e.g., Kuentzel & Heberlein, 2008).
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  • Needham, M. D., Scott, D., & Vaske, J. J. (2013). Recreation specialization and related concepts in leisure research. Leisure Sciences, 35(3), 199-202. doi:10.1080/01490400.2013.780457
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