Public attitudes to countryside leisure: A case study on ambivalence.

Macnaghten, Phil (1995) Public attitudes to countryside leisure: A case study on ambivalence. Journal of Rural Studies, 11 (2). pp. 135-147.

Full text not available from this repository.


This paper describes a research study designed to look critically at the framework underpinning current attitude survey research on countryside leisure. The argument proposes that people do not have set and stable needs and attitudes. Using a framework informed by recent debates on discourse and rhetoric in social psychology, the research examines whether people appear to have, on the surface, variable and flexible views on countryside leisure which reflect deeper societal tensions, ambiguities and uncertainties. This perspective is in stark contrast to current key U.K. leisure policy documents and understandings which implicitly assume people to have unitary and stable needs and views which reflect internally consistent “attitudes” (although the needs which people are assumed to have in relation to countryside leisure are subtly different across the different policy documents). Using seven topical and strongly contested disputes over the appropriateness of particular leisure uses for the English countryside the research “playfully” seeks to determine whether people's expressed views and attitudes to the same issues of countryside leisure can be radically transformed in line with wider cultural controversies. This hypothesis is explored by introducing the same issues, framed in line with three ‘cultural’ voices, in three consecutive weeks. The hypothesis is largely confirmed across many of the countryside leisure controversies and is interpreted as revealing of the considerable ambivalence in people's expressed preferences. The results are argued to be highly relevent to policy makers and some implications of this kind of research are drawn out for U.K. government agencies. Wider theoretical implications are also explored concerning the power of contemporary cultural rhetories, and of how a more reflexive understanding of such rhetorics might inform the practices of a variety of social groupings.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Journal of Rural Studies
Uncontrolled Keywords:
ID Code:
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
04 Feb 2009 16:18
Last Modified:
21 Sep 2023 00:42