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Title:“I think adults play by spending time with their friends and by participating in leisure activities”: How college students conceive of and experience play in their everyday lives
Author(s):Schiller, Kerri R
Director of Research:Liechty, Toni
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Liechty, Toni
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Shinew, Kimberley; Ostler, Teresa; Browning, Matthew
Department / Program:Recreation, Sport and Tourism
Discipline:Recreation, Sport, and Tourism
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):adult play
Abstract:Play scholars believe that humans play throughout their lifespan (e.g. Gray, 2009; Brown, 2009). There is a relatively large body of literature about play in childhood (e.g. Smith, 2009), but relatively little about play in adulthood (Van Vleet & Feeney, 2015), and most of the work that has been done is specifically about the play of older adult women (e.g. Yarnal, Chick, & Kerstetter, 2008). One exception is the work of Nicholson and Shimpi (2015), who observed that their students (mostly Early Childhood Education majors) saw play as an activity associated with childhood, not something that was part of their current lives. The present study extended the work of Nicholson and Shimpi to focus on students in a different major (Recreation, Sport, and Tourism, or RST) and was loosely modeled after the class on which Nicholson and Shimpi’s research is based. The purpose of the study was to further our understanding of play in young adulthood through a play-based discussion group, in which participants were asked to engage in weekly cycles of play, documentation, and reflection. Research questions were: 1) How do young adults view play in adulthood? 2) How do young adults experience play and how does that play compare to childhood play? 3) What factors (if any) constrain play in young adulthood? 4) What factors (if any) facilitate play in young adulthood? The findings showed that the participants felt they did still play, but they did not use that word except in the sense of playing something. Their play was highly social and consisted largely of planned, structured activities. Their personal definitions of play focused on enjoyment and were less strict compared to scholarly definitions. Play constraints included time, obligations, people, and state of mind. Overall, the findings are consistent with Sutton-Smith’s (1997) observation on the ambiguities of play, noting that in Western cultures, “children play but adults only recreate” (p. 7).
Issue Date:2020-04-24
Rights Information:Copyright 2020 Kerri Schiller
Date Available in IDEALS:2020-08-26
Date Deposited:2020-05

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