Factors Affecting the Upward Mobility of African Americans in the Young Men’s Christian Association Movement


  • Corliss Wilson Outley
  • Willie Dean


occupational mobility, homosocial reproduction, discrimination, leisure services, YMCAIntroduction


Organizations, including many local parks and recreation departments, have embraced the concept of diversity. In order to be true to the precepts of diversity and inclusiveness, leaders in the parks and recreation field must become adept at managing diverse resources, be they people, ideas, or concepts (Allison, 2000a; Thomas, 1996). However, many organizations still operate under the old paradigm in which dominant group members enjoy privileges and perquisites not available to minorities and women. Drawing on the theory of homosocial reproduction, this study investigates and explains the under representation of African Americans in senior positions in the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA). The findings from qualitative interviews of 37 senior managers suggest many employees were “consciously or unconsciously” motivated to maintain the “status quo balance of power” between blacks and whites. This limitation not only provides a disservice to the employees within the organizations, but may serve to limit diversity of programs and services provided to the greater community. While the current study was undertaken within a major non-profit organization, the results are applicable to organizations in both the public and private sectors.





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