Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Constraints and Negotiation Processes in a Women's Recreational Sport Group

Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Constraints and Negotiation Processes in a Women's Recreational Sport Group

Article excerpt

As a way of studying participation in recreation, constraints and negotiation have received considerable attention in the literature over the past 25 years (Godbey, Crawford, & Shen, 2010). Constraints are factors that limit participation, and negotiation strategies are the ways that people alleviate the impact of those constraints. Yet, Scott's (1991) earlier observation that the majority of research on constraints had taken an individual perspective, with limited focus on constraints at the group level, still holds (Mannell & Iwasaki, 2005). Such a gap in the literature is significant as research suggests that some individuals prefer to engage in sport and leisure as part of a subculture, and much leisure is social in nature (e.g., Green, 2001; Green & Chalip, 1998; Heuser, 2005; Kyle & Chick, 2002, 2004; Scott & Godbey, 1992).

Recent research has found that participation as a group can facilitate women's persistence in recreational pursuits (e.g., Wood & Danylchuk, 2011). Recreational groups may be particularly beneficial for middle-aged to older women as they can help negotiate or resist societal constraints related to gender and age (Green, 1998). However, recreation in the lives of older women is significantly underexplored, with a few exceptions (e.g., Heuser, 2005; Yarnal, 2004; Yamal, Chick, & Kerstetter, 2008). Employing constraints as a framework represents one fruitful approach (Godbey et al., 2010; Hawkins, Peng, Hsieh, Se Eklund, 1999; Son, Kerstetter, & Mowen, 2008). Shaw and Henderson (2005) suggested that the majority of research involving women has not been guided by a constraints framework. Instead it has focused on the connections between the gendered lives of women and their leisure.

Research that has been conducted utilizing a constraints framework has found that women are more constrained in their leisure as compared to men (e.g., Hudson, 2000; Jackson & Henderson, 1995) and that these constraints are the result of socially derived gender role expectations (Shaw & Henderson, 2005). Examining constraints and their impact within a recreation group may provide insight into the group's ability to operate and engage in activities as a collective and into the group's role in helping individuals manage participation-related constraints. Acquiring an understanding of the factors that influence participation in recreation for individuals in mid to later life could assist in the development of effective solutions for increasing participation among this population (Son, Kerstetter et al., 2008).

Midlife (approximately 40-60 years of age) is accompanied by changes in life circumstances (Stalp, Radina, & Lynch, 2008), such as current or upcoming retirement from paid work, partners beginning to retire, and children, if present, moving away from home permanently (Shapiro, 1996). This stage is also characterized by increased opportunities for women to engage in their own recreational activities (Stalp et al., 2008). As a woman in Wood and Danylchuk's (2011) study said, "I'm now able to come out and play again." Considerations of age and gender have also been called for in constraints-based research (e.g., Alexandris & Carroll, 1997; Jackson, 2000; Shaw & Henderson, 2005; Son, Kerstetter et al., 2008). Thus, the purpose of this study is to develop an understanding of constraints and negotiation processes in a self-organized women's recreation group.

Literature Review

Research related to recreation groups, leisure constraints, and negotiation strategies are particularly relevant to the examination of constraints in a women's recreation group. Thus, research conducted within these areas is reviewed below. This section is concluded with a critique of existing constraints research.

Recreation Groups

Although participating in sport and leisure is often a social experience, there is a paucity of research on recreation groups (Heuser, 2005; Scott, 1991; Scott & Godbey, 1992; Yamal et al. …

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