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Ethnicity and Leisure

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Ethnicity is understood as a unique cultural heritage or set of cultural characteristics that are passed down through generations. It is typically known through patterns of language, family life, religion, and even leisure customs. While culture is referring to attitudes, practices customs, and behaviors that characterize a group of people. With the world becoming more ethically and culturally diverse further research into ethnicity, culture and visible minority groups is needed to provide us with insight into its relationship with leisure and how to properly and effectively plan leisure activities when taking it into consideration. The effects of one’s cultural or ethnic minority status are evident through the differences in leisure participation of ethnic, cultural and visible minorities. Through research, there are at least six explanations for why differences in leisure participation exist. Two of the earliest explanations were the marginality and ethnicity or subcultural thesis. The marginality thesis proposes that ethnic and racial differences in leisure activity are a result of systemic constraints to their leisure participation such as poverty and socio-economic status. This shows that leisure pursued by these individuals are those that are least constrained to them based on their status. The ethnicity or subcultural thesis suggests that the difference is explained by the values, norms, and socialization which reflects an individual’s distinct cultural identity. This thesis might discourage participation in certain types of leisure if the proposed leisure activity and the individual’s cultural identity don’t align.

These earlier explanations have been criticized which led to two other discrimination-based explanations. The first discrimination explanation is known as personal perceived discrimination. Personal perceived discrimination suggests that the negative impact on leisure participation is due to the perceptions of discrimination by others in the leisure setting. While institutional discrimination’s impact is relating to an organizations or communities widely utilized practices which are used with no prejudice or intent to harm. In addition to the four previous explanations, two additional reasons have been proposed of recent. One being positive emotion or affect which refers to one of properties associated with leisure participation. Positive emotion or affect refers to participating in specific mood-producing behaviours in order to achieve the mood individuals want if they are currently not experiencing that mood. This is because the types of moods individuals try to achieve is dependent on one’s cultural background. This is evident as many European Americans prefer high arousal activities while many Chinese Canadians prefer low arousal activities. Based on these preferences, we would expect higher Euro Canadian participation in snowboarding than those of Chinese Canadians who would typically participate in reading (Walker, 2013). Another additional reason is acculturation which is most applicable to immigrants and their children. Acculturation is the changes in an individual or cultural group experiences because of the interaction with other cultural groups. Separation, integration, assimilation, and marginalization are four changes that occur as a result of acculturation based on one’s preference for contact with mainstream culture and their heritage culture.

Separation occurs when a person prefers contact with their cultural heritage and keeps mainstream culture largely at arm’s length. When a person prefers to be absorbed into mainstream culture and sheds their cultural heritage assimilation occurs. In order to assimilate to the new culture and expand their social networks, Integration refers to a person preference to maintain their cultural heritage and their involvement in mainstream culture. While marginalization happens when a person is unable or unwilling to maintain their cultural heritage and to be involved in mainstream culture. Cultural, ethnic and visible minority groups should be considered when providing leisure services. When doing so, I would consider the six explanations to ensure that cultural, ethnic and visible minority groups feel welcome in the leisure setting. Especially in terms of institutional discrimination, drawing on work from Scott (2005), I would strive to not intentionally overlook social equity and inclusion. This will be done by not putting too strong of a focus on fees, marketing, and privatization. I would also ensure staff diversity and diversity training for everyone involved in the leisure setting. Through Stodolska’s analysis (2000), that found that participants had a sense of stability, psychological comfort, and familiarity by engaging in the leisure activities that they started in their home countries.

While also considering that leisure provides a venue in which one can meet people of the dominant culture and learn about and adjust to the host country (Tirone & Pedlar, 2005). I would especially pull form my own experiences as an immigrant remembering the positive experiences that I had in various leisure settings. What really had a positive impact was having the integration of both the dominant culture as well as my own cultural heritage. I truly appreciated the being in dominant culture and diverse leisure spaces. This was something I feel that The Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) which was my childhood ethnic community organization effectively did. They are an umbrella organization originating in Nigeria that provided venues to learn about Canada as well as keeping in touch with my cultural heritage. My fondest memory was when the church participated in a multicultural open rink day at my local community centre. This allowed me to cope and adjust to the dominant Canadian culture as well be exposed to people form a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds. This was a positive experience for me because it exposed me to these new experiences along with those from my ethnical and cultural background. It helped lessen my anxiety in a new environment and I attribute it to allowing me to socialize with others from various backgrounds. Studies and analysis on ethnicity, culture and visible minority groups have provided much needed understanding into its relationship with leisure behaviour as well as leisure planning. These studies have provided various explanations for why differences in leisure participation exist. Ensuring that these explanations be considered when leisure planning and ensuring leisure participation among minority groups.

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