Whitewater Kayaking: A Social World Investigation

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Jason W. Whiting
Katharine A. Pawelko
Gary T. Green
Lincoln R. Larson


This exploratory research identified kayakers participating at urban whitewater kayaking parks as a specific recreational
user group that had yet to be examined socially and recreationally from a managerial and theoretical standpoint. To examine the social world of whitewater kayakers, twelve participants were interviewed at whitewater kayaking parks in Colorado and Utah. The interviewer utilized naturalistic methods with a concentration on grounded theory techniques.  Constant Comparative Methodology (CCM) was used during the data collection and analysis process. Triangulation permitted the identification of thematic findings across participants and sites to determine the relevant meanings and practical applications associated with kayaking participation, social aspects, motivations, and perceived benefits. The implications from this study suggest natural resource managers may attract non-participating user groups by taking advantage of the social nature and pre-established mores found in the whitewater kayaking community. Recommendations suggest other adventure-based outdoor recreational user groups may be examined using a similar social-based lens.

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