Collaborative interpretation in serious leisure: From knowledge sharing to community learning

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle


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. 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. 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, because 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.
Original languageEnglish
Specialist publicationInformation Matters
Publication statusPublished - 07 May 2024


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