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"I do it for the riders!" An Analysis of the Serious Leisure Framework Through Psychological Contract Theory

Holmes, Georgina L (2016) "I do it for the riders!" An Analysis of the Serious Leisure Framework Through Psychological Contract Theory. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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This thesis makes an empirical examination of the Serious Leisure framework using psychological contract theory, applying this to volunteers within Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA). Serious Leisure is a widely utilised way of understanding the behaviour of hobbyists, leisure participants and volunteers, and yet its conceptual limitations to date have not been significantly considered or challenged in the literature. By analysing the interaction between Serious Leisure and the psychological contract, this study extends the existing framework of Serious Leisure as applied to volunteers. An inductive, constructivist approach was used, and semi-structured interviews were conducted with twenty-five volunteers in a long-established UK voluntary sport organisation. These exhibited varying lengths of service in a number of roles within RDA. Data generated were analysed using an ethnographic content approach, together with information from the organisation itself and academic literature, to address the aims of the study. The study establishes that the volunteers interviewed may be classified as serious leisure volunteers in Stebbins’ terms. It supports the hypothesis that Serious Leisure does influence the psychological contract. It explores the formative influences on the psychological content and maps the content of that contract from the perspective of the volunteer. It introduces the concept of ‘intentionality’, a pattern whereby the new volunteer exhibits characteristics of seriousness from the beginning. It is proposed that the volunteer’s acceptance of Serious Leisure characteristics sits alongside ideological factors in their psychological contract to create a high level of resilience and commitment to the activity. Finally, it proposes that volunteers are able to hold multiple psychological contracts with an organisation, simultaneously. These findings address significant gaps in the literature of volunteering and also have implications for psychological contract theory. The study suggests a number of areas for further work to develop its findings.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > Management School (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.698290
Depositing User: Georgina L Holmes
Date Deposited: 18 Nov 2016 14:20
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2018 09:30
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/15251

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