Bourdieuian Analysis on African Americans? Under-representation at Parks and Outdoor Recreation



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



This study used Pierre Bourdieu?s theory of practice and analyzed African Americans? under-representation at parks and in outdoor recreation. It focused on Cedar Hill State Park (CHSP) located in Cedar Hill, Texas and investigated local African Americans? non-visitation to the park. The study also explored how fear of racism impacts middle class African Americans? travel choices and how they negotiate constraints associated with racism. This study is guided by four research questions: (1) What factors prevent local African Americans? visitation to CHSP? (2) How does Bourdieu?s concepts and theory explain African Americans? non-visitation to CHSP and other outdoor recreation sites? (3) How does racism impact middle class African Americans? travel choices? and (4) How do they negotiate fear of racism when they travel? A qualitative research approach was employed in this study. Archival method, site visits, and fact-to-face interview with 13 local African Americans were conducted. Data collection was implemented from October 2012 to March 2013.

The collected data provided rich information related to the phenomenon under investigation. First, racism was interwoven with the history of local community and Texas state parks. There has been a rapid increase of Black populations and white flight at cities around CHSP. Many incidents of racial discrimination were found in the history of the community and Texas state parks. Second, this study identified that (1) lack of information and encouragement, (2) lack of interest/cultural irrelevance, (3) lack of attraction, and (4) fear of racism were four main reasons African Americans do not visit CHSP or other state and national parks. These four reasons were closely interrelated with each other and commonly held racism as an underlying theme. The findings illustrated that racism is a foundation of the under-representation issue.