Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Structural Inequalities in Outdoor Recreation Participation: A Multiple Hierarchy Stratification Perspective

Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Structural Inequalities in Outdoor Recreation Participation: A Multiple Hierarchy Stratification Perspective

Article excerpt

Introduction

Numerous studies in the field of leisure have focused on the effects of socio-economic status, race and ethnicity, age and gender on leisure involvement. Leisure researchers began investigating the relationship between socio-economic status (SES), such as the level of education, level of income and occupational status, and leisure participation in the 1950s (Stamps & Stamps, 1985). In the 1960s, as minorities became a powerful force in local and national politics, researchers began investigating the relationship between race/ethnicity and leisure involvement (Hutchison, 1988). In addition, researchers began to examine the relationship between life cycle and leisure participation in 1970s due to the increasing longevity and the sheer size of the older population (Cutler & Hendricks, 1990). Almost a decade later, starting in the early 1980s, awareness of the need to incorporate gender into leisure research began to emerge (Henderson, Bialeschki, Shaw, & Freysinger, 1996).

Prior to the 1980s, many of the studies reported singular effects of socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity, age, and gender on leisure. In the 1990s, however, studies that examined the combined effects of these statuses on leisure started to appear in the literature (i.e., Cutler Riddick & Stewart, 1994; Scott & Munson, 1994; Shinew, Floyd, McGuire, & Noe, 1995; Philipp, 1997; Arnold & Shinew 1998). It is notable that many of these studies employed the idea of the multiple hierarchy stratification perspective. The framework originated in the field of social gerontology to provide insight into how access to housing, health coverage, life satisfaction, and leisure resources are compromised as a result of holding a multitude of disadvantaged statuses (Markides, Liang, & Jackson, 1990). The perspective basically suggests that our everyday life is influenced by multiple social statuses, including socio-economic status, ethnicity, age, and gender. It is implied that leisure life styles are influenced by a combination of these multiple statuses.

Indeed, the perspective provides a more realistic picture of leisure life styles than studies that focused solely on the impact of a single status. The perspective suggests that since elderly, minority women who have a lower socio-economic status have four disadvantageous statuses, they are likely to occupy the bottom of a multiple hierarchy stratification of outdoor recreation participation. In contrast, since middle-aged, Anglo men who have a high socio-economic status have four advantageous statuses, they might occupy the top of the hierarchy. It also suggests that the remaining groups are likely to fall somewhere in the middle because they possess both advantageous and disadvantageous statuses.

Most studies that have examined the combined effects of socioeconomic status, ethnicity, age, and gender on leisure have focused on psychological aspects of leisure, including leisure preferences, leisure constraints, and leisure benefits (e.g., Shinew et al., 1995; Philipp, 1997; Arnold & Shinew 1998). Almost no research has explored the combined effects of these statuses on the behavioral aspects of leisure, such as the level of outdoor recreation participation and park visitation. In addition, those studies that have employed the multiple hierarchy stratification perspective have combined the effects of just two variables instead of the original four (i.e., socio-economic status, ethnicity, age, and gender).

The purpose of this study is to examine the combined effects of socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity, age and gender on outdoor recreation participation employing the multiple hierarchy stratification perspective. We will begin by reviewing the literature related to socio-economic status, ethnicity, aging, and gender effects on leisure participation. Then, in order to examine the combined effects of these four factors on outdoor recreation behavior, the idea of the multiple hierarchy perspective will be explained in detail. …

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