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Place, Recreation Experience and Identity

A central and longstanding focus of recreation research has been to describe the experiences, benefits, and satisfactions received by outdoor recreation participants and identify the participation and environmental factors that influence these experiences. Resource managers administer recreation resources such as campgrounds, wilderness areas, rivers and trails, and require specific information on how the resource functions to provide satisfying experiences. In addition managers need information on how management practices such as facility improvement, fees, use regulations and interpretive services enhance or inhibit visitors' desired experiences. Research to support these needs has often been guided by a consumer metaphor in which recreation participants are likened to consumers choosing among alternative products. This work has led to important insights about the provision of quality experiences, but is increasingly supplemented by work guided by a relationship metaphor that sees recreation participation as a way to express and affirm an enduring sense of identity and commitment to a recreation place. By the latter reckoning, satisfaction and experience quality are not limited to judgments of the immediate performance of the resource in satisfying explicit goals, but include the contribution of an outing to building long-term relationships with the setting, activity, or companions that enhances overall well-being and satisfaction over time.

Selected Publications

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  • Brooks, J. J., Wallace, G. N., & Williams, D. R. (in press). Place as relationship partner: An alternative metaphor for understanding the quality of visitor experiences in a backcountry setting Leisure Sciences
  • Williams, D.R. (in press). Recreation settings, scenery and visitor experience: A research assessment. In: In Kruger, L. (ed.), Proceedings of the national workshop on recreation research and management (PNW-GTR-xxx) Portland, OR: USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station.
  • Williams, D. R. (2004). Place-identity. In J. Jenkins and J. Pigram (eds.). Encyclopedia of leisure and outdoor recreation (pp. 367-368). London: Routledge.
  • Williams, D. R. (2004). Activity. In J. Jenkins and J. Pigram (eds.). Encyclopedia of leisure and outdoor recreation (pp. 5-8). London: Routledge.
  • Williams, D. R. (2004). Choice. In J. Jenkins and J. Pigram (eds.). Encyclopedia of leisure and outdoor recreation (pp. 51-53). London: Routledge.
  • Patterson, M. E., Watson, A. E., Williams, D. R., & Roggenbuck, J. W. (1998). An hermeneutic approach to studying the nature of wilderness experiences. Journal of Leisure Research, 30, 423-452.
  • Patterson, M. E., Williams, D. R., & Schrel, L. (1994). Identity and the experience of wilderness: Analysis of experience narratives from Australia and the USA . In Hendee, J. & Martin, V. (Eds.), Proceedings of a symposium during the 5th World Wilderness Congress on International Wilderness Allocation, Management and Research (Tromsø, Norway, Sept., 1993, pp. 240-246). Ft. Collins, CO: The Wild Foundation.
  • Carr, D. S., & Williams, D. R. (1993). Understanding the role of ethnicity in outdoor recreation experiences. Journal of Leisure Research, 25 , 22-38.
  • Haggard, L. M., & Williams, D. R. (1992). Self-identity through leisure activities. Journal of Leisure Research, 24 , 1-18.
  • Haggard, L. M., & Williams, D. R. (1991). Self-identity benefits of leisure activities. In B. Driver, G. Peterson, & T. Brown (Eds.), Benefits of Leisure (pp. 103-120). State College , PA : Venture Press.

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