Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

"Being a 'Doer' Instead of a 'Viewer'": The Role of Inclusive Leisure Contexts in Determining Social Acceptance for People with Disabilities

Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

"Being a 'Doer' Instead of a 'Viewer'": The Role of Inclusive Leisure Contexts in Determining Social Acceptance for People with Disabilities

Article excerpt

Introduction and Literature Review

Context has been found to be an important factor in the meaning people assign to leisure, role of leisure in maintaining relationships, and how decisions are made in relation to leisure (Kelly & Freysinger, 2000; Samdahl & Jekubovich, 1997; Shaw, 1997). Context is characterized as a social situation that includes (a) physical space and aspects of place, (b) tone or atmosphere, (c) meanings people assign to behaviors, objects, and language, and (d) the actors or interactants themselves (Berger & Luckmann, 1966; Burr, 1995). In other words, context is viewed as a social situation that influences an individual's behavior at a specific moment in time. Leisure contexts tend to reflect social status, beliefs, privilege, and collective attitudes (Bedini, 2000; Henderson, Hodges, & Kivel, 2002; Mannel & Kleiber, 1997). To understand the leisure context is to understand social structure and social behaviors. Thus, leisure contexts may provide a "window" for understanding social structure and much about society's norms, attitudes, beliefs, and values (Devine & Lashua, 2002; Devine & Wilhite, 2000). Understanding leisure contexts or situations is important as leisure contributes significantly to people's quality of life (Kelly, 1996). This is particularly true for individuals with disabilities (Bedini, 2000; Devine & Lashua, 2002).

While leisure experiences for individuals with disabilities have ranged from constraining to freeing, researchers tend to ignore the social contexts and complexities of situations (Bedini & Henderson, 1994; Devine & Dattilo, 2000; West, 1984). One leisure situation needing further examination is the inclusive leisure context (Bedini, 2000; DePauw & Doll-Tepper, 2000). Inclusive leisure is defined as individuals with and without disabilities engaging in recreation pursuits together (Dattilo, 2002). It is important to examine these contexts because they are a forum that may reveal privilege, status, social values, and beliefs toward individuals with and without disabilities (Bedini, 2000; Bedini & Henderson, 1994; Shank, Coyle, Boyd, and Kinney, 1996; West, 1984). One indicator of privilege, status, and values within an inclusive leisure context is social acceptance (Devine & Dattilo, 2000; Fine & Asch, 1988). Schwartz (1988) described social acceptance as equal status or social position between individuals with and without disabilities. Within a leisure context, social acceptance has been found to be a reflection of equal status, reciprocity, and social inclusion (Devine & Dattilo; Schleien & Heyne, 1997; Schwartz). Thus, the purpose of this study was to examine individuals with disabilities perceptions of inclusive leisure contexts as an environment for gaining social acceptance.

Context and Leisure

The meaning people attach to language, objects, and behavior arise and are reproduced within social situations (Danforth & Navarro, 2001). Sharing of social meaning occurs and is reproduced through social interaction. The meaning of behavior, objects, and language may change as social situations, societal attitudes, and norms change. Berger and Luckmann (1966) noted the relationship between the individual and his or her social world is an ongoing process of determining and transmitting meaning. This means people interpret and understand other's actions within specific social situations (Goffman, 1959). To better understand leisure, it is important to understand the perspectives and attitudes that people bring with them to leisure contexts. Given what leisure reveals about an individual and it's foundations of choice and freedom, leisure is a particularly salient context from which to understand social structures (Mannel & Kleiber, 1997). For instance, the common experience of leisure may disclose a persons attitudes, beliefs, perceptions, and preferences. Studies of various marginalized groups show leisure as an arena where identities are challenged, and privilege and social structures are played out. …

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