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Leisure and Human Development

Research aim, lines & team


The team’s study is based on a conception of knowledge as a comprehensive experience and basic right which highlights its contribution to human development in the personal, social, cultural, economic and environmental spheres. This research area contains four priority subjects which aim to give an interdisciplinary response to the main challenges posed by leisure today: Lifelong leisure experiences and sustainable creative leisure environments.

Leisure forms a complex reality which must be approached from two broad visions which intersect: the personal and experiential aspect and the social level and environment. Taking into account the different agents involved in the experience (public, private and third sectors), management of the different spheres of leisure (culture, tourism, sports and recreation), the implications of practices for the different groups (children, young people, adults and the elderly), and assessing the possible impact of the leisure experience on its environment are relevant transversal issues that form the “Leisure and Human Development” research team’s approach to the subject areas mentioned. All of the above are based on one cross-cutting aspect, social inclusion. This comprises an intervention principle as an essential tool to guarantee the right to leisure and enable all citizens' participation in satisfactory quality leisure experiences.


  • Leisure, culture and tourism for social transformation

The scientific production by the research team “Leisure and Human Development” is oriented to two prioritised thematic subareas in which social inclusion is the cross-cutting element.

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As per the cross-cutting area of Social Inclusion, it is noteworthy that all intervention in leisure fields (culture, tourism, sport or recreation) should assume the social responsibility of the implications and outcomes it creates among citizens.

Subarea 1. Lifelong Leisure Experiences
Conceptualisation of leisure as a comprehensive phenomenon requires understanding it as a process that takes place throughout life, adopting various meanings, expressions, and experiences in each life stage. The dynamic evolution of leisure, which has been widely proven in scientific literature, confirms that a person's leisure habits are not isolated actions but expressions of a meaningful whole that forms each person's leisure itinerary. A longitudinal approach that studies people from their infancy to their old age is essential. It must also analyse the leisure itineraries that are gradually built in different life stages. All of the above is performed to foster better life conditions for people by proposing active, satisfactory, valuable and intergenerational leisure. Meaningful lifelong leisure has become an area to promote people's and communities' well-being. Current reality raises the challenge of new ways to manage leisure to address citizens’ needs.

Among the research team’s different areas of knowledge, two are outstanding leisure and youth development and leisure and active satisfactory ageing, placing special attention on the cross-cutting area related to inclusion and social cohesion.

Subarea 2: Sustainable and Creative Leisure Environments

Leisure Studies have always focused on the manner in which artistic experiences are produced and socialised, helping to understand how creativity contributes to human development as well as personal and community fulfilment. However, concepts like “creativity” have been profoundly re-formulated in the last decade. They have exited the scope of art to become a source of inspiration in almost all fields and competences, both analogical and digital, which foster more interactive ways to understand social relationships.

This subarea mainly develops two closely interconnected dimensions: the first values art as an important leisure experience, connected to strengthening cultural audiences and developing emerging public and, ultimately, to sustainable management of a cultural heritage that is no longer understood as simply inherited but as a social construction that increasingly encourages citizen participation.

The second dimension centres on urban spaces renewed through Cultural and Creative Industries (CCI), which is a cluster of sectors subjected to extraordinary dynamism where highly innovative creative processes blend with business positioning strategies on a more sustainable scale than the traditional mass culture industries. This ability to attract specialist talent in sectors that contribute to socialising technological competences and imaginative production processes gives these creative sectors a high strategic value for the territories where they are based. This subarea tackles the topic from an original approach: the need to develop new methodologies to analyse the qualitative impact- and not only in the economic sense- of creative sectors on the territories subjected to urban renewal that pursue sustainability and grounding in collaborative processes. A critical and participatory concept of culture must form the core of said processes.


* Team recognised by the Basque Government.


Investigadora principal
Aurora Madariaga


Equipo investigador Gobierno vasco
Idurre Lazcano
Fernando Bayón
Jaime Cuenca
Roberto San Salvador
Maria Jesus Monteagudo
Joseba Doistua
Macarena Cuenca
Aurkene Alzua
Marina Abad
Basagaitz Guereño
Asunción Fernandez-Villaran

Investigadores UD. PDI
Giuseppe Aliperti
Samiha Chemli
Ana Goytia
Nerea Mugica
Nagore Ageitos
Patricia Celis
Álvaro de la Rica
Mónica Erice

Investigadores PREDOC
Alexandra Zagrebelnaia (Cofund)
Julian David Bermeo Osorio (Cofund compartida con ética)
Ullah, Ubaid (Cofund compartida con e-life)
Nerea Arambarri
Fernando José Villatoro
Luz Angela Ardila
Juan Vich
Sofia Moreno

Colaboradores Gobierno Vasco
Liana Abrao Romera (Universidade Federal Do Espirito Santo, Vitoria, Brasil)
Ángel de Juanas (UNED, Madrid)
Txus Morata (Universidad Ramón LLull URL Fund Pere Tarres, Barcelona)
Andres Ried (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago de Chile, Chile)
Eloisa Perez Santos (Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid)
Marcin Poprawski (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan, Polonia)
José Vicente Pestana (Universidad de Barcelona, Barcelona)
María Lorena Villamayor (Universidad del Salvador USAL, Buenos Aires, Argentina)