The effects of demographics and social divisions on leisure participation Essay

What are the main factors that encourage people to take part in particular leisure activities?

Max Kaplan in 1975 said: “leisure consists of relatively self – determined activity/experience that falls in to ones free – time roles, that is psychologically pleasant in anticipation and recollection, that potentially covers the whole range of commitment and intensity, that contains characteristics norms and constraints and that provides opportunities for recreation, personal growth and service to others.

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There are many factors that encourage people to take part in leisure activities. Health implications are one of the main factors. The growing trend for people to be fit and healthy is now bringing more and more people to become involved in leisure activities such has training at local health and fitness clubs, taking part in sporting activities such as football, or simply going for a jog around the local park. I think that this growing trend brings about a lot of felt needs, which are simply what people think they have to do, which for example could be to keep fit and healthy.

Stress is another influencing factor. Taking part in leisure activities is proven to be a great stress reliever. This could be something as simple as walking the dog, as long as you enjoy this and feel it as a leisure activity, hence the Max Kaplan theory.

It is also becoming in a way fashionable to go to the gym, and people like to tell other people that they are a member of a gym, so there is a definite image factor associated with going to the gym.

As time goes on people are having more disposable income than in the past, and the has a positive impact on the amount of leisure activities people take part in. People are getting more and more money to spend on going to the cinema or drinking in the local pub for example.

Analysis of the impact of personal circumstances and social divisions on choice of leisure activities.

Gender

The latter part of the 20th century has seen positive social change in the favour of women. Legislations such has the equal opportunity act 1975 and sex discrimination act 1979. The symmetrical family is becoming the norm and men are no longer the so called bread winner has back in the day!

However men still have more leisure choices and opportunities although there are few gender differences I terms of media, holidays and home based leisure. Women participate a lot more in terms of library membership, theatre visits, and other arts. Although all this is true women’s participation in sport is increasing at twice the rate of men, so in the future women may take part in as much sporting activities as men.

Women are disadvantaged compared to men in terms of leisure time, space and activities. Free time is a male orientated conception. House work does not have a definite boundary like paid work, and there domestic responsibilities make it hard to separate work from leisure, also women support the leisure activities of children.

The same space is used by women for work and leisure which is have course the home. Women are restricted from many places by potential danger for example woodlands, countryside etc or social stigma like bars and working men’s clubs. Women also have in general less income than men therefore transport can restrict them from taking part in leisure activities. Facilities designed to be operated by men for men can also alter women’s decisions on leisure activities they take part in.

Although women match men in terms of the Arts, outings and leisure classes, with the exception of yoga and keep fit, they fall behind significantly in sports participation. There has the smallest proportion of women taking part in sporting activities than any other country except Italy. Evidence such as Hargreaves 1992 suggests the differences lies in women’s perception of appropriate feminine behaviour, just the same has men’s choices are influenced by their perceptions of appropriate masculine behaviour.

Ethnicity

Ethnic differences do not necessarily have associations with skin colour. Most ethnic groups will have some leisure activities in conmen with other groups but some are directly related to their own culture. All leisure providers must be aware of structural racism, institutional racism, and individual racism.

Sport is often regarded as being one of the least racist leisure areas but there is under or over representation of black people in certain sports- cashmore (1982)attributed this to ‘channelling’ in schools.

Racist practices result in black players occupying peripheral non – central positions in team games – ‘stacking’ – kew (1994). It result in fewer becoming couches and administrators.

Positive action describes policies which counter the effects of discrimination while ‘positive discrimination’ relates to reserving quotes for ethnic minorities.

Structural racism is economic and social discrimination against black people embedded in the structure of society as evidenced in employment, education and housing. Then there is institutional racism. This occurs were institutions maintain practices, procedures and values which operate to perpetuate discrimination against black people. And last of all there is individual racism and this is were the actions and attitudes of an individual to black people support and reproduce discriminatory practices. Overt manifestations of this range from racist chants on football terraces to examples of ‘packi-bashing’

Age

Clarke and Critcher (1985) claim that society constructs age through thoughts its organisation of education, housing, retirement.

Youth

During the 19th century the three major institutions of the family, education and work were developed to manage youth.

Youth is the time when people seek to express themselves and to achieve identity of there own.

There is always major concern about troublesome youths although research shows that only 14% belong to a subculture. The youth market is seen as one of the most important segments of the leisure sector because younge people often try to establish their identity through leisure activities.

Even non affluent unemployed youths attract a significant level of attention in terms of resources given over to them by local and national agencies.

Old Age

Ageing is a major factor that determines the patterns of leisure participation. Obviously older people suffer a reduction in mental and physical capacities. So does this explain there changed participation or it due to the non – biological factors. Now more and more people are retiring early, this is often reinforced by some kind of income support. The new generation of the elderly are now able to take part in a wider range of leisure activities because of the increase in disposable income, and they also have more time to do them.

Retirement in life is a major event for most people. Long in 1985 identified 4 potential transitional difficulties. The first being ending working results in a loss of self esteem has the retired try to compensate by doing voluntary work or doing leisure activities which involve work like characteristics.

Employment provided a timed structure to the day week, month or year and all this is lost. Leisure as relaxation and recuperation becomes meaningless. Work provided social interaction and this extended onto leisure.

A lot of retieard people have a lack of income but a lot will have good pension schemes and investments. Because a lot of older people have a lot of spare time because of lack of commitments they can use this time to pursue leisure activities. Other things that older people become prone to is isolation from family as loved ones move away and live there own lives, and also will worry about personal care and carrying out domestic tasks.

There is a significant difference between the leisure activities of older people compared to the rest of the population. Old fashioned community support work is maintained and community support work is always important, and consumer orientated technology based pursuits become less popular.

How things are changing?

In the past it has seen to be known that the older end of the generation are generally more interested in doing activities such as bingo, drinking in the working men’s club, and other stereotypical old peoples activities. It is now becoming more and more popular for the older end of the generation to become members of local gyms, and just generally get out more, and do the things that in the past were seen as activities for the young only. This as now started to have an impact on health and fitness clubs and even other smaller gyms that in the past were just interested in attracting young fit people.

A lot of these clubs put on special sessions for the older end of the generation for example water aerobics and even things like boxercise! O.K these have been around for a while but now are organised at different levels for example beginner, intermediate, and advanced. At one time classes were at one level only and older people would have found the classes to intense, but now they have the option of going to the beginner classes which are much less intense.

Now has time goes on women are becoming more and more interested in keeping fit to, and again health and fitness clubs etc are adapting to this for example, Greens Health and Fitness Club has a women only gym were at one time this would have been un heard of.

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