Articulating a systematic phenomenology of flow: An experience-process perspective

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    Today, the term “flow” stands as an established metaphorical expression for the dynamic flowing nature of experience that follows the optimal functioning of consciousness. Such expressions are most likely to be associated with the perspective of positive psychology, wherein there has been a thematic shift in discourse concerning flow theory with contemporary proponents predominantly referring to the existing flow framework, channelling their efforts into furthering the scope of its application. This shift has diverted researchers from seeking answers to more fundamental questions, such as gaining an understanding of the experiential nature and significance of what goes before and after flow. This article documents the first research to focus on flow as a broader experiential whole and, more specifically, on flow as a process-experience. The aim of this research was, through phenomenological inquiry, to bring clarity to the experiential, conceptual and theoretical uncertainty surrounding what goes before and after a state of flow, to provide a more complete, holistic and systematic understanding of the flow experience. More specifically, this research is situated within serious leisure [Stebbins, R.A. (1992). Amateurs, professionals, and serious leisure. Montreal, QC: McGill-Queen's University Press; Stebbins, R.A. (1992). Loisir et société/Society and Leisure, 15, 375–386; Stebbins, R.A. (2007). Serious leisure: A perspective of our time. New Brunswick, NJ: Aldine]. An experience-process perspective of flow-based serious leisure was developed building upon the key findings of the research to depict flow as the focal state of mind in a broader, more expansive, multi-phased and multi-dimensional experiential process comprising three distinctive phases of experience, identified as pre-flow experience; flow-in-action; and post-flow experience.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)327-360
    JournalLeisure/ Loisir
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 5 Nov 2010


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