Urban outdoor recreation provision : concepts and practice
Urban Outdoor Recreation Provision (UORP) seems to interpret the concepts of leisure and recreation as 'activity', but a more comprehensive conceptual framework has many more components. This has important implications for UORP. As one instance of this, an 'experience' definition of recreation, should matter to UORP, as the same 'activity' can create a variety of 'experiences', in different settings, for different people. It is argued that if UORP provided 'experiences', this would actually form a clearer, more appropriate and reliable basis forUORP. This thesis aims to increase the understanding of the concepts of leisure and recreation in the context of UORP and to emphasise the need for a more comprehensive conceptual picture as the basis of UORP. To achieve this, the research carries out a multi-level, hierarchical investigation: the first level, the conceptual level, examines the meanings of leisure and recreation in historical, academic and philosophical contexts. It emerges that the multidimensional concepts of leisure and recreation evolve with time and they are not synonymous terms; they are similar concepts, but, with distinctions. Both leisure and recreation may be approached as 'activity', as 'social matter' and as a 'holistic concept'. But significantly for UORP, and distinctively, leisure is defined as 'time' and recreation as 'experience' and as 'outcome of experience' . At the second level, the operational level, the research tests the propositions made and the issues raised at the first level by studying the practice of UORP. This is done through a postal questionnaire survey of Metropolitan local authorities (covering attitudes and opinions) and case studies of Gateshead Metropolitan Borough Council, as provider, and Saltwell Park, as specific urban outdoor recreation place. The research concludes that leisure and recreation have a weak link to UORP which is preoccupied with 'activity'. There is no significant input from other definitional aspects such as 'time' and 'experience', which could provide a sounder, overall basis for UORP and a conceptual link in resolving certain contemporary issues such as the 'problem' of vandalism, 'perceived decline' (and revival) of parks and making future Urban Outdoor Recreation Provision more efficient, creative and flexible. Proposals to improve practice are made on the basis of the findings of the empirical research.