Organizational barriers to inclusion: Perspectives from the recreation professional

Maria T. Allison, Dan K. Hibbler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Recreation professionals continually strive to serve a host of diverse program constituents, while leisure researchers attempt to uncover barriers to leisure participation. Much of the barriers or constraints research has come from the perspective of program participants. This study identified, from the perspectives and experiences of 18 recreation professionals, the issues and barriers that they perceive inhibit recreation program access and availability to diverse constituents, particularly ethnic minority populations. Co-cultural theory, which integrates the concepts of muted group theory and standpoint theory, was utilized as the study's theoretical framework. In-depth interviews were utilized. Five primary barriers were identified that related to the changing faces of the community, the changing faces of management and staff, deferred program responsibility, language barriers, and negative attitudes and stereotypes held by some management and staff. This article demonstrates how these barriers impact leisure participation for disenfranchised groups. The findings suggest that recreation agencies, often unwittingly or unknowingly, foster organizational barriers that inhibit the perceived program accessibility or attractiveness to ethnic minorities. Implications for research and professional practice are explored.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)261-280
Number of pages20
JournalLeisure Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2004


  • Co-cultural theory
  • Diversity
  • Ethnicity
  • Muted group theory
  • Organizational barriers
  • Program access
  • Standpoint theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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