Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management


Dr. William C. Norman

Committee Member

Dr. Jeffrey C. Hallo

Committee Member

Dr. Kenneth L. Robinson

Committee Member

Dr. William C. Wentworth


Social worlds are a distinct form of human organization in which individuals organize themselves by using communication channels to spread knowledge and culture around a shared interest. Over the past thirty years, the leisure sciences have increasingly used the social world vernacular to describe population samples of recreation-based groups. While important to the leisure and recreation disciplines, social world vernacular can be confusing, often leading to improper use. This research returns to the original definition of social worlds created by Shibutani and reexamines what social worlds were intended to be in the context of recreation and tourism. By reexamining the original definition of social worlds, the researchers identified three major characteristics and those characteristics’ ability to predict and make comparisons among social worlds and their membership. These characteristics include a social world’s shared culture, shared communication channels, and shared knowledge.