Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

The Impact of Immigration: Leisure Experience in the Lives of South American Immigrants

Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

The Impact of Immigration: Leisure Experience in the Lives of South American Immigrants

Article excerpt

Cultural differences have been recognized as a critical factor in the interpretation of leisure behavior among different ethnic groups (Allison & Geiger, 1993; Carr & Williams, 1993; Edward, 1981; Floyd & Gramann, 1993; Lobster, 1998; Hutchinson, 1987; Outley, Floyd, & Shinew,1997). Most of these differences have been described in terms of ethnic/racial influences, recreational preferences, and participation rates (Carr & Williams, 1993). In general, the focus of previous research has been on outdoor recreation indicating that ethnic minorities tend to recreate closer to home, use city parks, be more family oriented, and utilize local facilities rather than national, state, or regional sites (Kelly, 1980; Meeker et al., 1973; O'Leary & Benjamin, 1982; Stamps & Stamps, 1985; Washburne, 1978; Washburne & Wall, 1980). Although, research has been conducted on the leisure behavior of the Hispanic population, specifically on Mexican and Central American communities, little empirical work has explored differences among other Hispanic populations, such as South American immigrants. This paper examines the role of immigration on the leisure experiences of a group of South American individuals, and offers some suggestions to administrators and researchers.

Theories Explaining Minorities Leisure Participation

The literature review provides a considerable insight into the meaning of leisure for ethnic minorities. However, much of the differences of minority under participation have been explained using the marginality/ethnicity framework. Floyd (1998) recognized the need for alternative approaches to understanding racial and ethnic variation in leisure behavior and preferences. For example, other theories such as assimilation and acculturation examine the variation in leisure behavior and the constraints faced by ethnic minorities. The following sections provide a review of these theoretical explanations.

The Marginality Theory

The marginality or socio-economic status hypotheses suggest that differences in leisure participation are a function of poverty and/or discrimination. Leisure differences are due to unequal access and inequitable distribution of recreational facilities and other public goods (Washburne, 1978). According to this theory the inequality in resources allocation could be an important structural barrier for blacks and other ethnic and racial minorities. Cheek, Field, and Burdge (1976) suggested that variations in activities of whites and blacks disappear when measures of social background (income or occupation) were considered. Similar results were reported by Woodard (1988) who examined the effects of social class and intragroup regionality on the leisure behavior of black Americans in Chicago. Education and occupation were used to determine social class, and regionality was determined according to the geographic region where the black Americans were born and reared the first sixteen years of their life. The results showed that black Americans were more likely to participate in informal domestic activities (television/listening to the radio, barbecuing/cooking out, visiting families, and reading newspapers/magazines) rather than metropolitan or night-life activities. Social class was an "effective predictor" of participation in urban oriented leisure activities such as visiting libraries and museums, dining out, and bicycling. For example, middle-class blacks were more likely to participate in these activities. It was suggested in this study that social class and regionality were important factors in understanding how black American leisure behavior and preferences vary.

West (1989) explored the leisure patterns among black and white participants in Detroit city parks and surrounding regional parks. The focus of the study was to examine the role of interracial, marginality, and subcultural factors in explaining differences in participation between black and white residents. …

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