Leisure roles

This 2009 article entitled “Serious leisure and people with intellectual disabilities: Benefits and opportunities” in the journal Leisure Studies describes efforts to help impaired people participate in ‘serious’ leisure activities, meaning leisure activities that a person engages in fully and has done so successfully for a long time. The authors mention Nirje and Wolfensberger, Normalization and Social Role Valorization in the text and bibliography.

The article begins with some background material about devaluation, wounding, discontinuity of relationship and devalued roles (not necessarily using that language) to set the stage for describing a study carried out in Brisbane, Australia. The study involved interviewing adults with intellectual impairments who were supported by agencies that had a focus on leisure involvement.

The authors state that they are in part writing in response to wide scale unemployment of adults with impairments, with a premise that engaging in serious leisure can be a way of developing skills and forming relationships even in the absence of work. It might be interesting for one of our readers to compare this article with Wolfensberger and Thomas’s 2009 article in the SRV Journal concerning unpaid work for impaired people (‘Some thoughts on the role valorizing merits of valued paid and unpaid activities, The SRV Journal, 4(2), 12-18).

It is an interesting article and seems to fit within the context of SRV, in that having valued roles (including leisure roles, which is one of the role categories mentioned on p. 30 of the 2004 reprint of “Introduction to Social Role Valorization by Wolfensberger) can open the door to the good things of life. I would like to have read more about the details and the reported ‘outcomes’ for people in the study: how long they had engaged in these serious leisure activities, how much they were actually participating, who else engaged in these activities, when this occurred, the relationships that had developed and with whom, whether their participation in these leisure activities was seen as positive by all involved, etc., etc. Some of these relate to issues we teach, in longer SRV workshops, around personal social integration and valued social and societal participation, and around social roles. I also wonder whether the agencies supporting the people interviewed gave serious thought to social roles, rather than just to activities, and if they took image enhancement of the people served into account.

The authors touch on issues of competency development as a fruit of engaging in serious leisure.

There is some usage of ‘quality of life’ language in the article. If you want to think more about that language use issue, Dr. Wolfensberger wrote a strong critique of such language use in a lengthy chapter entitled ‘Let’s hang up ‘quality of life’ as a hopeless term,’ published in D. Goode (Ed.). Quality of life for persons with disabilities: International perspectives and issues (pp. 285-321). Cambridge, MA: Brookline Books.

Posted on June 17, 2011 at 8:17 am by MTumeinski · Permalink
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