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This paper uncovers the rhetorical strategies used by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) to affect institutional discourse and field logics during the first 25 years of its existence (1965-1990). Analyzing editorials featured in the organization’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, we describe how the NRPA sought to establish itself as the legitimate steward of public recreation, sport, and leisure in the U.S. by utilizing five rhetorical approaches: normalization, rationalization, moralization, authorization, and anti-authorization. Furthermore, we identify discrete patterns and combinations of strategies that have thus far not been described in the literature. Our research adds to prior sport-related institutional work scholarship, which has examined the importance of legitimacy in attempting to establish alternative modes of organizing and functioning in a field dominated by powerful incumbents, by offering an alternative look at the ‘starting-from-scratch’ establishment of a unified field logic.

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Taylor & Francis

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Sport in Society: Cultures, Commerce, Media, Politics