Leisure Constraints and Acculturation among Korean Immigrants


  • David Scott
  • Soojin Lee
  • Jenny Ji-Jeon Lee
  • Chulwon Kim


Leisure constraints, ethnicity, immigration, acculturation, Korean Americans


An important challenge facing recreation and park managers is the change in the ethnic and racial profile of constituents. Past research has tended to ignore the fact that ethnic and racial minorities are heterogeneous. It is likely that immigrants from any one country vary markedly in how they experience leisure constraints. Past studies have also not determined the full range of factors that are likely to impact how different immigrants experience constraints. In this study, we sought to better understand what constraints limit participation in desired leisure activities among Korean immigrants in the United States and how these constraints vary by level of acculturation. Questionnaires were sent to Koreans living in six major U.S. cities.Results showed that lack of time was the most frequently reported constraint to participation in desired activities and experienced equally by all respondents. Lack of English proficiency and fear of discrimination were regarded as far less important by respondents as a whole. Nevertheless, these two constraints varied by level of acculturation. Korean immigrants who ate English food, watched American movies, and listened to American music were less constrained by poor English skills compared to immigrants who were more loyal to Korean culture. Two dimensions of acculturation were significantly related to fear of discrimination: perceived prejudice and cultural heritage. In this case, Koreans who perceived a high degree of prejudice and discrimination but who were devoted to American ways were more likely than others to report that discrimination prevented them from participating in desired leisure activities.This study provides some guidance for service delivery. Like other Americans, time is a chief constraint to participation in leisure activities among Korean immigrants. Leisure service organizations can build into their marketing and programming efforts specific strategies that help mitigate time constraints among immigrants. Leisure service organizations should also target Korean immigrants who feel their English skills impede their participation in desired activities. Managers can effectively address this issue by developing a website and promotional literature that contain information about leisure opportunities in Korean. Managers may also develop programs that specifically target Koreans who have poor English skills. Finally, managers should be particularly mindful of Korean immigrants who lack strong ethnic group ties and who are not fully accepted by other Americans. These immigrants are highly constrained and may be the most likely to be at risk from stress that accompanies acculturation.





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