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Collaborative Interpretation in Serious Leisure: From Knowledge Sharing to Community Learning

Collaborative Interpretation in Serious Leisure: From Knowledge Sharing to Community Learning

Yazdan Mansourian

In my ongoing research on the informational facets of serious leisure, I frequently come across various examples of collaborative interpretation activities among hobbyists, such as bonsai growers, knitters and birdwatchers. In almost all hobbies that I have studied so far, people with similar interests are actively engaged in creating a Community of Interest (COI) whether in real world, like local clubs, or online platforms, such as digital forums on Facebook. Forming a COI is the first step to develop it into a Community of Learning (COL) and even establishing a Community of Practice (COP) down the road.

—collaborative interpretation enhances the educational value of leisure activities and boosts a sense of connection and shared purpose among the leisure enthusiasts—

A COI refers to a group of people who share common interests but may not necessarily engage in professional development. However, a COL includes a group of people, who participate in structured learning such as attending courses or workshops to learn new skills. A COP includes a group who share a common area of expertise and involve in knowledge sharing and problem solving. Therefore, while they all manifest social interaction around some shared interests, they are different regarding their focal point and the level of structure. In these group activities, serious leisure enthusiasts keep sharing information within or between groups and keep learning from each other.

For example, bonsai workshops and bonsai exhibitions are good examples of collaborative interpretation in the form of COI, COL or COP. In each bonsai show or exhibition, several groups of people attend including bonsai hobbyists, bonsai amateurs, bonsai artists, bonsai referees and general public. They all engage in a collaborative interpretation, but with different levels of engagement and based on their own criteria. These elements incorporate a wide range of topics such as aesthetic beauty, horticultural skills and unique expression of each tree. Bonsai enthusiasts usually engage with these elements to deepen their understanding of bonsai as a form of living art and a Japanese cultural tradition. They may figure out the skills of the growers in techniques such as pruning and wiring. They also can understand the historic and botanic context of presented trees by considering age and species.

At the same time, bonsai artists and referees have a chance to share their expertise and teach bonsai growers, especially newcomers to their community. They evaluate the beauty of each bonsai tree according to its form and overall presentation. They may assess the cultural significance of the bonsai trees in terms of its historical origins and symbolic meanings. Exhibitors also demonstrate their expertise in cultivating healthy trees. Some bonsai exhibitions have a general theme, but some may feature trees to tell a story or convey a concept. In either case, each exhibition is a platform for collaborative interpretation.

In another example, I refer to birdwatching which is a popular hobby around the world. Local birdwatching clubs usually arrange regular trips to observe birds in natural environments. During these trips, they engage in group observation and information sharing. As the group encounters different bird species, they collaborate to identify and document the birds they observe. They also usually share field notes, photos or other types of information to help one another in identifying distinctive features of different species.

During these excursions, they share their stories and observations about the birds they have encountered before. Usually, experienced birders share their expertise about related topics such as migration patterns which will lead to enhancing the collective understanding of the local community. They also collectively maintain records of birds, locations, and other details. These shared datasets are useful resources for larger purposes such as citizen science projects.

These cases illustrate how collaborative interpretation can enhance the educational value of leisure activities and how it can boost a sense of connection and shared purpose among the leisure enthusiasts. Moreover, serious leisure enthusiasts often have a long-term engagement with their chosen activity and dedicate time and effort to it. Therefore, they have a shared history of experiences and challenges. This shared history is one of the building blocks to form their shared social identity and it generates trust and social bonds among them which is necessary for any collaborative interpretation.

Nonetheless, scholars in this area have paid little attention to this topic and our knowledge about it is still limited. Therefore, exploring the value and practical implications of collaborative interpretation patterns among serious leisure enthusiast is an emerging line of inquiry for further research and I encourage fellow researchers to investigate this topic in their future studies.

Cite this article in APA as: Mansourian, Y. Collaborative interpretation in serious leisure: From knowledge sharing to community learning. (2024, May 7). Information Matters, Vol. 4, Issue 5. https://informationmatters.org/2024/05/collaborative-interpretation-in-serious-leisure-from-knowledge-sharing-to-community-learning/

Author

  • Yazdan Mansourian

    Yazdan Mansourian is a senior lecturer in the School of Information and Communication Studies. He received his PhD in Information Science from the University of Sheffield in 2006. Since then, his research interests have been shaped around the cognitive and affective aspects of Human Information Behaviour (HIB) in different contexts. Since 2017 to the present, he has focused on HIB in Serious Leisure. In this ongoing research program, he explores the role of joy and other positive emotions in engaging people with hobbies, amateurism and voluntary activities and how joyful experiences inspire them to seek, share and use information. He also investigates to what extent people's engagement in joyful information activities can contribute to their overall wellbeing. Yazdan is also the co-founder and co-director of the Grounded Theory Research Group (GTRG) at CSU.

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Yazdan Mansourian

Yazdan Mansourian is a senior lecturer in the School of Information and Communication Studies. He received his PhD in Information Science from the University of Sheffield in 2006. Since then, his research interests have been shaped around the cognitive and affective aspects of Human Information Behaviour (HIB) in different contexts. Since 2017 to the present, he has focused on HIB in Serious Leisure. In this ongoing research program, he explores the role of joy and other positive emotions in engaging people with hobbies, amateurism and voluntary activities and how joyful experiences inspire them to seek, share and use information. He also investigates to what extent people's engagement in joyful information activities can contribute to their overall wellbeing. Yazdan is also the co-founder and co-director of the Grounded Theory Research Group (GTRG) at CSU.