Why leisure research is different

Date of publication: September 1, 1988


Although leisure itself is not as simple to define as might at first appear, there can be no doubt that the leisure industry is one of the few growth areas in most Western countries, reflecting technological advances, de-industrialisation and the shorter working week. Leisure activities can be defined according to where they take place (the home is most people's principal leisure centre) and by the degree of participation required; however, in order to avoid too wide a definition of what constitutes a "leisure time product", the paper suggests it is the specificity of a product or service which should determine whether or not we should regard it as a leisure product or service. On this basis, the key leisure industries are holidays, travel, catering, sports and in-home entertainment. The paper contends there are five groups of reasons which differentiate the leisure industries from other business categories: official control and interference, the influence of external events, the industry's entrepreneurial nature, the closeness of customer contact within the industry and, most importantly, the nature of the leisure product it- self. Leisure markets are more complex than others for the researcher to work in: more specialist knowledge is needed. The successful researcher in the field of leisure needs to cease being purely a market researcher: he or she needs to become as much an expert in leisure as in research.

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