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Title: An exploration of the joining process of newcomers in offline and online leisure pursuit groups
Author: Kylilis, Nicolas
ISNI:       0000 0004 6347 8706
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2017
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This research explores the joining process of newcomers in offline and online leisure pursuit groups. The notion of joining and becoming a member is a complex and under-explored area. People devote a significant amount of time and money to leisure and in modern life it is highly valued and desired. Yet it is acknowledged that leisure, as a distinctive aspect of society and social life, is often overlooked by researchers. More specifically, joining leisure groups can satisfy people’s need to belong and offer the conditions to pursuit their interests through social interaction, but understanding of this process is relatively under-developed. The research adopted a qualitative, predominantly inductive approach. For the first stage, an auto-ethnographic study was conducted on two offline and two online groups based in Yorkshire. For the final stage 18 face to face interviews were conducted with members of the same photographic groups. The interview data were analysed using thematic analysis. The first stage revealed that groups and newcomers themselves use different, formal and informal approaches to becoming members. Members were found to have varied capital and skills. Information disseminated by groups about themselves was often inaccurate in regards to the entry requirements. The findings indicated that photographers tend to follow an equipment upgrade path that is linked with the joining process. Competitions in different forms were found to be a common and an integral part of photographic groups. They were viewed as a way to gain prestige and credibility. Casual competitions enabled novices to participate and feel part of the group. Compared to offline groups, joining online was found to be initially easy but it was harder to achieve a strong sense of belonging in the group. Overall Communities of Practice theory was found to provide a useful perspective for exploring joining. The final stage discovered that joining is linked to learning. Becoming a full participant in photographic communities implies the ability to become involved in core activities and to gain competency. Furthermore joining was found to be linked to the shaping of the identity. Learning and the ambition to learn shapes the identity. Through imagination, photographic members create images of the world and see connections through time which enable to accept or reject future identities. They can pursue future identities by learning. Differing forms of capital are converted in the different types of groups (offline, online, hybrid). Key moments of identification mark the transition between the joining and the establishment phase in the Photographic Membership Career Model. Members in online groups commonly have narrow identification, a form of identification where members have or feel limited accountability towards the practice. Regarding the practical implications of the study, members should understand that they have to continuously adapt to or change the group domain in order to maintain their identification with the group. Newcomers need to be given a realistic idea of the hidden entry requirements and can select to join a type of group (offline, online, hybrid) that is more suitable to their set of capital. Newcomer-oriented groups should place more emphasis on orientation and be more tolerant, whereas more established groups can allocate fewer resources on orientation.
Supervisor: Cox, Andrew Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available