Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Meanings of Leisure in Coping and Adjustment after Hurricane Katrina among Japanese and Japanese American Survivors in New Orleans

Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Meanings of Leisure in Coping and Adjustment after Hurricane Katrina among Japanese and Japanese American Survivors in New Orleans

Article excerpt

According to the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance and Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (OFDA/CRED; n.d.), the number of natural disaster occurrences has rapidly increased over the last century at the global level. Natural disasters in this study are defined as "ecological disruptions exceeding the adjustment capacity of the affected community" (Lechat, 1979, p. 11), and include hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and tsunamis. Although natural disasters may result in many casualties, they also affect the survivors' psychological wellbeing by initiating a variety of stressors including bereavement, injury, fear of death, separation from family, property damage, financial loss, and displacement (Norris et al., 2002). However, previous studies also reported that the numbers of survivors who sought professional mental support after natural disasters were limited (e.g., DeSalvo et al, 2007). Therefore, there exists a pressing need to explore alternative ways to help disaster survivors' coping and adjustment processes.

The literature has suggested that leisure can help people cope with and adjust to negative life events that potentially include natural disasters (Hutchinson, Loy, Kleiber, 8c Dattilo, 2003; Kleiber, Hutchinson, & Williams, 2002). For example, leisure may help survivors keep their minds off negative disaster experiences as well as provide a sense of continuity after life-changing disaster experiences. Nonetheless, the relationships among disaster-related stressors, coping and adjustment, and leisure have heretofore been significantly underexplored. For instance, a review of the literature identified only one unpublished doctoral dissertation that focused on this subject (Jackson, 2011).

Hurricane Katrina, one of the largest natural disasters in U.S. history, struck southern states in August of 2005. According to the OFDA/CRED (n.d.), the hurricane and subsequent flooding resulted in the death of 1,833 people; in Louisiana, more than 288,000 residents lost their homes and more than 400,000 lost their jobs (Kent, 2005). In New Orleans, 74% of all housing units were damaged by Katrina (U.S. Census Bureau, 2011), and 71,280 evacuated because of the hurricane (Singer & Donato, 2005).

Although previous studies examined stress coping among Katrina survivors in New Orleans (e.g., Kishore et al., 2008; Spence, Lachlan, 8c Burke, 2007), few studies focused on roles of leisure in their coping processes. Moreover, these studies appear to lack in an in-depth understanding of relationships between racial/ethnic diversity in the city and coping/adjustment after Katrina. Whereas a few studies did examine, for instance, Vietnamese American Katrina survivors in the city (e.g., Li, Airriess, Chen, Leong, 8c Keith, 2010), they did not directly examine their psychological coping or adjustment processes. Because stress is generated in "a particular relationship between the person and the environment that is appraised by the person as taxing or exceeding his or her resources and endangering his or her well-being" (Lazarus 8c Folkman, 1984, p. 19), racial/ethnic factors (e.g., language) may lead to different levels of perceived stress. Furthermore, the availability of coping resources may vary across racial/ethnic groups (e.g., community support). Japanese and Japanese Americans living in New Orleans were racial/ ethnic minority groups who were affected by Katrina but unexplored. The 2000 U.S. Census reported that there were 283 Japanese Americans in the city (the total population was 343,829). The purpose of this study, therefore, is to explore the relationships among Katrina-related stressors, coping and adjustment, and leisure through the cases of Japanese and Japanese American survivors in New Orleans.

Literature Review

Because the subject of leisure coping and adjustment after natural disasters remains underdeveloped, three relevant streams of research were reviewed: roles and meanings of leisure in coping with and adjusting to negative life events, leisure as a coping resource or strategy after Katrina, and Japanese people, stress, and coping. …

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