Social Stratification in Fishing Participation in the United States: A Multiple Hierarchy Stratification Perspective

By Lee, KangJae Jerry; Scott, David et al. | Journal of Leisure Research, May 30, 2016 | Go to article overview

Social Stratification in Fishing Participation in the United States: A Multiple Hierarchy Stratification Perspective


Lee, KangJae Jerry, Scott, David, Floyd, Myron F., Edwards, Michael B., Journal of Leisure Research


Introduction

Fishing is among the most popular forms of wildlife-dependent recreation in the United States. The 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation reported that 37.4 million U.S. residents 16 years of age and older went fishing in 2011 (U.S. Department of Interior, 2012). Fishing provides numerous economic, environmental, and social benefits to communities and individuals (Dann, 1993; Ditton, 2004). U.S. residents, for example, reported spending approximately $42 billion on fishing in 2011 (U.S. Department of the Interior, 2012). The sale of fishing licenses is an important revenue source for conservation and habitat restoration programs, and recreational anglers tend to be strongly interested in conservation activities (Arlinghaus, 2006; Granek et al., 2008). Moreover, fishing can promote family cohesion (Hunt & Ditton, 2002; Toth & Brown, 1997), mental relaxation (Driver, Brown, & Peterson, 1991), and opportunities for escape (Fedler & Ditton, 1994).

Despite these benefits, fishing has decreased in popularity over the last few decades (Arlinghaus, Tillner, & Bork, 2015; Bruskottter & Fulton, 2013). The number of anglers in the U.S. declined by approximately one million from 2001 to 2011 (U.S. Department of the Interior, 2012). Moreover, the decline in anglers is expected to continue due to a number of reasons, such as urbanization and industrialization (Schuett, Scott, & O'Leary, 2009). This trend is a concern for policymakers given that anglers have long been advocates for conservation of fishing resources. Understanding factors associated with recreational fishing participation helps provide insights into reasons for declining participation in the activity.

Researchers started analyzing fishing participation based on demographic variables in the early 1960s (e.g., Mueller & Gurin, 1962). In general, studies have noted that seniors, females, non-Whites, and individuals with low income or education levels generally experience greater constraints to overall leisure participation (e.g., Floyd, 1999; Henderson, Bialeschki, Shaw, & Freysinger, 1989; Zanon, Doucouliagos, Hall, & Lockstone-Binney, 2013). Findings from fishing studies have also documented that fishing has generally been a more popular outdoor recreation activity among males than females (Dargitz, 1988; Duda, 1993) and Whites compared to people of color (Harris, 2012; Hunt & Ditton, 2002). Age, education, and income were found to be less important predictors of fishing participation than sex (male, female) and race (Fedler & Ditton, 2001; Floyd & Lee, 2002). Researchers have also examined effects of various other factors on fishing participation such as fish stocking, motivation, household structure, population density, and access to water area (Arlinghaus et al., 2015; Dabrowska, Haider, & Hunt, 2014; Kuehn, Luzadis, & Brincka, 2013; Loomis & Fix, 1998). These studies suggest that some geographic factors can also play an important role in fishing participation.

To contribute to this body of knowledge, this paper uses the multiple hierarchy stratification perspective (MHSP) to examine associations between the combined effects of age, education, income, race/ethnicity, sex, and supply of fishing opportunities (i.e., water acreage) with Americans' participation in freshwater and saltwater fishing in 2011. MHSP was developed in the field of gerontology to explain how multiple statuses facilitate and constrain people's access to a myriad of goods, including housing, health coverage, and life satisfaction (Markides, Liang, & Jackson, 1990). Social scientists have long recognized that life chances-opportunities people have to improve the quality of their lives-are inexorably related to their social status (Weber, 1978). In most cultures, privilege and access to material and non-material resources vary by sex, social class, race and ethnicity, and age (Fishkin, 1983; Massey, 2007). …

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