Theory Application and Development in Recreation, Parks, and Leisure Research


  • Karla A. Henderson


Theory, research, leisure, models, positivism, interpretive social science.


Theory, conceptual frameworks, and empirical activity need to be interwoven in research studies in a contextual manner such that theory guides research or research guides theory (Denzin, 1978). Further, theory can enable recreation and park managers to account f0r and characterize what happens in the "real" world. The purpose of this article is to describe and illustrate the application and development of theory in the recreation, park, and leisure research literature. A model was developed that described the ways in which theory has been applied in leisure research. The components of the model include: theory testing, model testing, conceptual frameworks, descriptions, model building, and theory development. The four most common American recreation, park, and leisure research journals were examined to indicate how theory was used to guide or ground research. Implications for the use of theory in park and recreation management are offered as a result of the examination of the role of theory.





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