Race and ethnicity in leisure behavior: Where have we been and where do we need to go?

  • Shinew K
  • Stodolska M
  • Floyd M
 et al. 
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The ethnic and racial profile of the U.S. is undergoing a major shift such that in the decades ahead people of color will constitute a majority of the population. This demographic condition already exists in many cities.With the massive migration and mobility of groups throughout the country, what had previously been ethnically and racially homogenous com- munities and neighborhoods are becoming progressively diverse. Increasingly “new” mi- norities are less likely to blend into the “American mainstream” than their predecessors from the turn of the 20th century and are more likely to preserve their original cultures and ties to their countries of origin. Thus, it is noteworthy that research on the leisure behavior of ethnic and racial minorities has become an important sub–field of leisure studies. The publication of special issues of Journal of Leisure Research, Leisure Sciences, and Leisure/Loisir devoted to ethnicity and race seem to exemplify not only a sustained interest among leisure researchers in the subject but also a significant maturation of this subfield. The last 40 years of research in this area has taken us far from the early works of the ORRRC commission that focused on identifying and cataloging differences in recreation participation between White Americans and racial minority members. A critical question then becomes, what does the future hold for this subfield? How might we forge new research questions that combine the reality of today’s world into a series of expansive and creative questions about the complexnature of the relationships between and among racial and ethnic populations and their leisure? The future research questions are endless, and the challenge is to ensure that they are embedded within the complex environments in which we live. Although a substantial body of research exists that has identified ethnic/racial differences in recreation preferences and participation patterns, new directions must be taken in this research if researchers are to address the range of questions that loom on the horizon. The purpose of this essay is to propose new areas of research that we feel are going to be increasingly relevant to the subfield of ethnic and racial leisure. More specifically, we propose that two societal trends need to be taken into account when assessing the long term prospects of research on leisure behavior of ethnic and racial minority groups: (1) the emergence of a new racial and social structure and (2) the increasing complexity in measuring and articulating ethnic identity.

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  • Kimberly J. Shinew

  • Monika Stodolska

  • Myron Floyd

  • Dan Hibbler

  • Maria Allison

  • Cassandra Johnson

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