Discrimination in Leisure and Work Experienced by White Ethnic Minority Group

Article excerpt


For more than three decades, differences in the recreation and leisure behavior of ethnic and racial groups have been the subject of study. During the 1960s and 1970s research focused primarily on comparing participation patterns in recreation activities between African Americans and whites (Mueller & Gurin, 1962; Washburne, 1978). In general it was found that Blacks tended to participate less frequently in wildland recreation activities than the white population (Kelly, 1980; Meeker et al., 1973; Washburne, 1978). In the 1980s and 1990s the scope of studies on the leisure of minority groups expanded to include a wider range of ethnic and racial minorities, such as Hispanic and Asian groups (Allison & Geiger, 1993; Hutchison, 1987; Irwin et. al, 1990; McMillen, 1983).

As part of this literature, and beginning in the late 1980s, issues related to the influence of racial and ethnic discrimination on leisure participation and enjoyment have been accepted as a legitimate area of study (West, 1989). Since that time an increasing number of research projects have attempted to tackle this phenomenon. In varying ways, these studies have shown that discrimination enters into leisure choices and may compromise the benefits that would otherwise be realized if discrimination were absent. The present study may be viewed as a contribution to continuing research on relationships between racial and ethnic discrimination and leisure.

Background and Objectives

From Comparative to Holistic Approaches

Early studies in the leisure of ethnic/racial minorities adopted a comparative approach in their analysis of differences in participation patterns between whites and minority-group members. The majority of the research employed Washburne's (1978) marginality-ethnicity thesis to account for these observed differences (Klobus-Edwards, 1981; Stamps and Stamps, 1985). During this period the leisure behavior of ethnic/racial groups was viewed largely as a static phenomenon that was uniform within a particular group and thus could be meaningfully compared with the "typical" leisure behavior of the white mainstream. Since the beginning of the 1980s, research on the leisure of minorities has evolved toward a more holistic approach to studying phenomena associated with minority recreation. In more recent studies, the leisure of ethnic populations is perceived to possess dynamic characteristics of its own and to change constantly as a function of many factors, such as the level of assimilation of its members. This "dynamic" approach has been adopted in a number of studies devoted to analysing the effects of assimilation on leisure preferences and participation patterns among ethnic and racial minorities (Aguilar, 1990; Floyd and Gramann, 1992, 1993; Floyd, Gramann, & Saenz, 1993).

Besides these issues, during the late 1980s and early 1990s other new trends began to emerge in the literature on the leisure of ethnic/racial minorities. AS the emphasis has shifted towards a more holistic view of the phenomena, research on leisure constraints (Karlis, 1993; Philipp, 1995; Rublee and Shaw, 1991), motivations (Carr and Williams, 1993), and the meaning of the leisure experience (Allison, 1988; Allison and Geiger, 1993; Carr and Williams, 1993) has been gaining importance. Findings of these recent studies suggest that the leisure of ethnic/racial minorities is different, not only in terms of participation patterns, but also in terms of distinct sets of motivations, benefits, and constraints associated with leisure.

Leisure and Discrimination

It was also during this period that research on discrimination in leisure and recreation began to be published. A study by West (1989) that attributed under-utilization of regional parks among Detroit's black minority to their fears of discrimination was one of the first attempts to explore the effects of discrimination on leisure behavior. Floyd et al. …


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