6361 The Role of (Serious) Leisure in Advancing Science: Conceptual Framework

Friday, February 17, 2012: 10:00 AM
Room 214 (VCC West Building)
Robert A. Stebbins , University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada
The serious leisure perspective, which distinguishes, explains, and interrelates three main forms of leisure – serious, casual, and project-based – has been shown to be useful in organizing knowledge and research bearing on the role of amateurs in professional and, increasingly, international science. This paper sets out the main concepts by which we can understand this role as well as some key generalizations that have emerged from research in the area in a number of countries. Amateurs are defined, in part, by their special relationship with the professionals in their science and with a public who is also interested in it. They are further defined by their enduring commitment to pursuing it and by a level of excellence in doing so that separates them from dabblers and project-based participants in the field. Typically, amateurs, as with their professional counterparts, collect scientific data, sometimes publishing them alone, with other amateurs, or with professionals. Alternatively they may send their data to clearinghouses. Hobbyists are part of the public served by the amateurs and the professionals. The first strive for an extensive reading knowledge of their science. Thus they, too, are serious leisure participants, but as such, are to be distinguished from scientific amateurs. Among the motives for such free-time involvement for both types as well as for the professionals are the various personal and social rewards gained from engaging in science. A main personal reward is self-fulfillment. A main social reward is the sense of contributing through data collection to the advancement of the science. Scientific amateur work is rarely theoretic, but rather is commonly centered on describing the focal phenomenon as observed within the participant’s vicinity. Among the physical sciences with lively amateur wings are astronomy, botany, ornithology, meteorology, mineralogy, mycology, and entomology. Amateur participation is comparatively weak in the social sciences, it being limited primarily to archaeology and history.
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