Children's engagement in leisure time physical activity; Exploring family structure as a determinant

Symeon Dagkas, Thomas Quarmby

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    50 Citations (Scopus)


    This paper draws on Bourdieu's key concepts in an effort to understand particular social practices and the effect of family as a social environment and determinant for participation in leisure time physical activity. As an exploratory study, the aim was to elicit children's subjective views of their engagement in leisure time physical activity settings. Adopting an interpretive perspective, six 11- to 14-year-old children from intact couple families and single parent families were interviewed in small groups, exploring lived experiences of their participation in physical activity in relation to their family structure. The study suggests that family structure plays a vital role in helping to shape children's dispositions towards physical activity. All children were subject to the transmission of parental beliefs and values towards physical activity though this was further reinforced in intact couple families through joint participation. Moreover, children from single parent families were seen to exhibit more sedentary dispositions that reflected the environment in which they reside. We argue that children's individual habitus, as bearing the experiences of their familial backgrounds, provided them with certain desires to participate in physical activity which are mediated by their family circumstance. The study suggests that family structure is becoming a more prominent issue within society, and thus, children's leisure activity from this perspective requires further research that explores this phenomenon in greater detail.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalLeisure Studies
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010


    • field
    • experiences
    • habitus
    • family structure
    • physical activity


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