The thesis has three aims: The first aim is to review the existing knowledge about ethnic minorities’ outdoor recreation in Europe. The second aim is to investigate similarities and differences in outdoor recreation patterns between adolescents with ethnic Danish and ethnic minority background in Denmark. The third aim is to investigate whether there is a match or a mismatch between the official statistic definitions of ethnic minority background (based on citizenship and place of birth), and the subjective perception of adolescents with ethnic minority backgrounds own ascription of their ethnicity. The implications from the review as well as the empirical study have been used to propose a theoretical framework for future research on ethnicity and outdoor recreation. The thesis consists of four papers: The first paper reviews the European research on ethnicity and outdoor recreation. An emerging field of research on ethnicity and outdoor recreation was identified, compared to the research in North America. However, the European research on ethnicity and outdoor recreation is growing. The European research has shown differences in outdoor recreation pattern (e.g. the motives for outdoor recreation, activities, and preferred outdoor recreation areas) between the minority and majority populations and related these differences to the ethnic minorities’ cultural background. The second paper presents the empirical work of this thesis, which is based on a survey of adolescents’ outdoor recreation pattern. The survey was conducted in two school districts: in North West Copenhagen and the municipality of Ringkøbing-Skjern (n=449, aged 14-16 years, 365 adolescents with ethnic Danish background, and 84 adolescents with ethnic minority background). The results of the questionnaire have shown both similarities and differences in outdoor recreation patterns of adolescents with ethnic Danish and ethnic minority background. There are e.g. no differences in the number of days spent on outdoor recreation pr. year. Among both the ethnic Danish and ethnic minority group adolescents, the stated reasons for visiting natural areas were most often social, such as being with family and friends, and health and well-being reasons (exercise and relaxing from stress). However, the ethnic minority adolescents more often stated “to be with family” as an important reason for visiting green spaces compared to their ethnic Danish counterparts. The adolescents use different areas for outdoor recreation: the adolescents with ethnic Danish background use sports grounds for outdoor recreation, while adolescents with ethnic minority backgrounds use urban green spaces for outdoor recreation. For activities reported carried out during some part of the year, “going for a walk”, “barbequing”, “taking a trip with family” were frequently cited by both groups, but more common among adolescents with ethnic minority background. “Walking the dog” was much more common among adolescents with Danish background, who also more often reported using green areas to “drink beer with friends” and “do sunbathing”. The third paper reflects on the different national approaches towards ethnic minorities’ access to natural areas, in four example-countries Germany, Denmark, United Kingdom, and the Netherlands. This was done through comparison of to what extend and in what way policy documents and research approaches take into account ethnic minority groups. The findings indicate that there is a correlation in the current national research approaches of the four countries and the societal and political context of the four countries. In the UK the focus on underrepresented groups seems closely related to the focus on equality for access, while specific focus on access for ethnic minorities is not addressed in the forest and nature legislation and the national forest programs in Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands. Paper 4 proposes a theoretical framework to understand ethnicity and outdoor recreation in a relational perspective, and is inspired by and uses key concepts of the German sociologist Norbert Elias. The point of departure of this paper is that ethnicity and outdoor recreation must be understood within its specific context, e.g. in the actual green space where outdoor recreation takes place. Further, the general societal developments (e.g. integration policies or outdoor recreation policies) must be taken into account. An investigation of ethnic minorities’ outdoor recreation pattern, as proposed in paper 4, takes both “micro” and “macro” levels into account. This thesis has provided the first systematic investigation of the similarities and differences in outdoor recreation pattern of adolescents with ethnic Danish and ethnic minority backgrounds, and presented this within a European context. However, there is still need for more knowledge about the similarities and differences in outdoor recreation pattern of ethnic Danish and ethnic minorities’ outdoor recreation pattern which can be used in policy making, as well as planning and management of green spaces and other natural areas, to provide the best possibilities for outdoor recreation for the various user groups.
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Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, Faculty of Science, University of Copenhagen, 2015