Segmented assimilation and recreational sport among immigrants in the united states

Por: Konstantinos Alexandris e Monika Stodolska.

Athens 2004: Pre-olympic Congress

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It is well documented that ethnic background influences a variety of issues related to sport and recreational behavior [1] [2]. Although interest in sport among culturally distinct groups in the context of school, college and professional sports has been increasing, research on their recreational sport behavior is still limited [3]. The aim of this study was to analyze immigration-related changes in recreational sport participation of Korean and Polish immigrants to the United States and to establish the role of recreational sport in their adaptation to life in the new country. Segmented assimilation theory [4] was used as a theoretical framework in this study. In order to successfully promote sport among minority populations, it is imperative to understand their decision-making processes and to identify factors that affect their sport participation.


Symbolic interaction approach was used to explore recreational sport participation patterns among first and one and a half generation immigrants from Korea and Poland residing in Illinois, USA. 30 semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted and a constant comparative method was employed to analyse the data.


The majority of immigrants experienced low levels of recreational sport participation during the first post-settlement period. The social class and ethnic background heavily influenced subsequent changes in their sport participation. Immigrants followed three distinct paths in the adaptation process. They either used sport to promote their acculturation to the culture of the White American mainstream, to assimilate to the sub-culture of their own ethnic community, or to preserve their ethnic values and promote their ethnic group solidarity.


The findings of this study supported segmented assimilation theory, but also added additional category to the proposed adaptation paths, suggesting that immigrants may use sport to assimilate to the sub-cultures of their own ethnic community. This research is useful from a planning perspective, since it can guide providers’ decisions regarding the development and implementation of sport and recreational services according to the needs and expectations of minority groups.


[1]. Coakley, J. (2001). Sport in Society: Issues and controversies. Boston-Toronto: McGraw Hill.
[3]. Coakley, J. (2001). Sport in Society: Issues and controversies. Boston-Toronto: McGraw Hill.
[2]. Grey, M. (1992). Sociology of Sport Journal, 9, 255-270.
[4]. Portes, A, & Zhou, M. (1993). Annals AAPSS, 530, 74-82.




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