Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Women's Leisure and Constraints to Participation: Iranian Perspectives

Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Women's Leisure and Constraints to Participation: Iranian Perspectives

Article excerpt


The study of women's leisure has been visible in the leisure literature for almost 20 years. During that time, a good deal of information has been uncovered about leisure meanings and how leisure is enabled as well as constrained for women (Henderson, Bialeschki, Shaw, & Freysinger, 1996; Shaw & Henderson, 2005). Although culture and ethnicity appear to play a large role in how leisure is embodied (e.g., Floyd & Gramann, 1993; Henderson, 1998; Stodolska & Yi-Kook, 2005; Walker, Deng, & Dieser, 2005), the growing body of research available about women and leisure written in English has been devoid of cultural analyses except in a few cases (e.g., Junui, 2000; Khan, 1997; Russell & Stage, 1996; Tirone & Shaw, 1997).

Integrative reviews conducted over the past 15 years show a growing evolution of information about women's leisure. Henderson (1990) concluded in the first integrative review related to research done in the 1980's that frameworks for understanding women's leisure were emerging using a variety of methods with a focus on empowering women generically to find meaning in leisure. This analysis showed that women shared a common world in their inequality regarding opportunities for leisure, were focused on social relationships in leisure, had fragmented leisure time, found the preponderance of leisure in the home and through unstructured activities, and lacked a sense of entitlement to leisure. The next integrative review (Henderson, 1996) broadened the basis of understanding to address multiple "meanings" associated with leisure. Henderson suggested that emerging issues in the literature related to gender explanations, a continua of meanings associated with leisure that were sometimes contradictory for different groups of women, and a growing focus on diversity existed within the research on women's leisure. The most recent integrative review (Henderson, Hodges, & Kivel, 2002) found that researchers in primarily English speaking countries around the world were further expanding the meanings of leisure for women from different perspectives. Dialogical issues surfaced related to the inward examination of how research on women is currently being conducted as well as how this research needs to move toward an examination of ideologies that shape girls' and women's experiences as well as the meanings of gender for men.

These integrative reviews demonstrate a body of knowledge about women's leisure, but also acknowledge the lack of examination of the cultural dimensions of leisure and especially research about women from emerging nations. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to analyze the leisure involvement and constraints of women living in Iran. In this exploratory study we examined leisure from a sample of Iranian women and described constraints that influenced the way that leisure is perceived and embodied. The results are presented followed by a cross-cultural comparison from the perspective of current literature. Although a body of literature exists from the largely Judeo-Christian influences of North America, Europe, and Australia/New Zealand, less is known about the leisure of Muslim women from Middle Eastern cultures.

Constraints Literature

Constraints research has moved from a narrow focus on barriers to participation towards a broader conceptualization of constraints. The conceptual framework for this study related to a culturally focused look at the three categories of intrapersonal, interpersonal, and structural constraints, which have become widely accepted and adopted by researchers (Jackson & Scott, 1999). The relationship between these categories of constraints has been theorized including the development of a hierarchical model (Crawford, Jackson, & Godbey, 1991) and a set of propositional statements about how this model works (Jackson, Crawford, & Godbey, 1993). Further, based on evidence that constraints are not necessarily impenetrable barriers, attention has been directed toward the idea of negotiation recognizing that constraints can be mitigated to a greater or lesser degree (e. …

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