Race and Gender Differences in Adolescent Peer Group Approval of Leisure Activities

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The leisure activities of childhood and adolescence have been generally regarded as highly important to adult leisure behavior for many decades (e.g., Cheek & Burch, 1976; Csikszentmihalyi, Larson, & Prescott, 1977; Iso-Ahola, 1980; Rapoport & Rapoport, 1975). Research interest in adolescent leisure, however, did not gain much attention in the literature until the early 1980s (see Kleiber, Larson, and Csikszentmihalyi, 1986; Caldwell, Smith, & Weissinger, 1992). The 1990s has produced a greatly increased research interest in all aspects of adolescent leisure experience, ranging from male adolescents who engage in delinquent leisure activities (Robertson, 1994), to high school achievement and leisure activities (Bergin, 1992), leisure and identity formation in male and female adolescents (Shaw, Kleiber, & Caldwell, 1995), negotiation of leisure constraints by adolescents (Jackson & Rucks, 1995), and adolescent self-esteem and leisure constraints (Raymore, Godbey, & Crawford, 1994). A critical review of this recent literature will also reveal that adolescent racial group differences have not been addressed as a central research issue in any of these investigations. Only one investigation by Hultsman (1993) has included race as an independent variable, with rather limited discussion of a few Hispanic American differences. Hultsman (1993) reported that "the sample sizes of black, Native American, and mixed and other students were very small (n [less than] 5) and therefore not included in this analysis" (p. 158).

Race has functioned as the single most important factor affecting education, housing, and employment in the United States during the last three decades (Jaynes & Williams, 1989). Racial differences in leisure preferences and behavior have also been acknowledged in the literature for decades. For example, Lee (1972) reported that the labels Black and White could be assigned to many leisure activities and locales. In another example, Schuman and Hatchett (1974) provided evidence that Black American leisure was different and distinctive even in integrated neighborhoods. Nearly all the research which followed the early investigations has attempted to explain racial differences in leisure preferences and participation using two basic theoretical explanations first developed by Washburne (1978): (a) marginality, or (b) ethnicity (e.g., Edwards, 1981; Stamps & Stamps, 1985). In highly simplified terms, marginality has evolved in the literature to mean all economic and social class factors, while ethnicity has evolved to be associated with subcultural values, language, and traditions (West, 1989). Although both theories have been used with some success to explain racial differences in leisure preference and participation, "a consistent body of evidence in support of either has not emerged" in the literature over several decades (Floyd, Shinew, McGuire, & Noe, 1994, p. 159).

Recently, a renewed interest in both of these theoretical explanations for racial differences in leisure behavior has been evident in the literature. For example, many researchers have recently explored marginality factors and found similarities in leisure preferences between Black and White Americans who defined themselves as middle class (e.g., Floyd, Shinew, McGuire, & Noe, 1994; Shinew, Floyd, McGuire, & Noe, 1995, 1996). Other researchers have also recently explored ethnicity factors, and found some support for acculturation differences in leisure preference and participation patterns (e.g., Carr & Williams, 1993; Floyd & Gramann, 1993; Floyd, Gramann, & Saenz, 1993). However, this shift from race-based investigations to social class and ethnicity studies has caused some concern among a few researchers who have proposed a third major explanation for racial differences in leisure preferences and participation: racial discrimination (e.g., Philipp, 1995; West, 1989). …


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