Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Interracial Couples' Experience of Leisure: A Social Network Approach

Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Interracial Couples' Experience of Leisure: A Social Network Approach

Article excerpt


For decades the divergent patterns in African Americans' and European Americans' leisure preferences and participation have been documented in the leisure literature. Lee (1972) found that some leisure activities and settings could be assigned the "black" label and others the "white" label. Hatchett (1974) explained that African Americans maintained a distinctive set of leisure activities even in integrated neighborhoods, suggesting that leisure activities may form an important part of racial identity regardless of neighborhood location or social class. Washburne (1978) developed the marginality and ethnicity perspectives to explain racial difference in leisure participation. It is his theories that much of the race and leisure research has been rationalized. Washburne used the marginality perceptive to explain why the participation rates in outdoor recreation were considerably lower for African Americans compared to European Americans. He indicated that African American participation patterns resulted from limited socioeconomic resources and being on the fringe of mainstream society. He explained that this was a direct result of historical patterns of oppression and racial discrimination. Conversely, Washburne (1978) described the ethnicity perspective as one related to subcultural differences. That is, African Americans have different patterns of participation based on different norms, values, and beliefs systems than those in the dominant culture. For example, Dwyer and Hutchinson (1990) argued that African Americans preferred urban, developed leisure locations, whereas European Americans preferred more natural, less developed areas.

In an attempt to understand minority leisure preferences and partici pation, other leisure theorists have investigated the interrelationships among race, gender, and social class (Floyd, Shinew, McGuire, & Noe, 1994; Stamps & Stamps, 1985). Although Stamps and Stamps (1985) hypothesized that leisure participation among African Americans and European Americans of the same social class would be positively correlated, particularly at the middle class level, they found low correspondence at the middle class level and no association at lower class levels. They concluded that race seemed to be more important than social class in determining leisure participation. In contrast, Floyd et al. (1994) showed strong correspondence among African Americans and European Americans who perceived themselves to be middle class; however, low correspondence was found among the two groups (and females in particular) who perceived themselves to have lower class or working class status.

Although much remains to be learned, there is greater understanding today than in years past regarding the differences and similarities between African American and European American leisure preferences and participation. However, if European Americans theoretically participate in activities A, B, and C for leisure, and African Americans participate in activities X Y, and Z, what happens to the leisure preferences of those who have been racialized as "other," that is, interracial couples and biracial people? To date there remains a paucity of research regarding this issue, and therefore, the primary purpose of this study was to explore the leisure preferences and participation patterns of interracial couples and families. The study was limited to only African American and European American couples. Furthermore, the current literature concerning interracial families suggests that these couples participate in community support activities to form social networks (Faulkner, 1983; Wellman & Wortley, 1990). Therefore, social network theory was used to guide the study's framework.

Family and Leisure

The leisure and family literature has provided insight into the multiple realities of family life as it relates to leisure experiences of individual family members and the familial unit as a whole. …

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