Record nummer 2098212
Titel Colourful green : immigrants’ and non-immigrants’ recreational use of greenspace and their perceptions of nature
toon extra info.
Marjolein Eva Kloek
Auteur(s) Kloek, M.E.
Uitgever Wageningen : Wageningen University
Jaar van uitgave 2015
Pagina's 194 pages illustrations
Pagina's 1 online resource (PDF, 194 pages) illustrations
Annotatie(s) PhD thesis Wageningen University for the degree of doctor in the year 2015  toon alle annotatie(s)
Includes bibliographic references. - With summaries in English and Dutch
ISBN 9789462574113
Tutor(s) Schouten, Prof. Dr. M.G.C. ; Boersema, Prof. Dr. J.J. ; Buijs, Dr. A.E.
Promotiedatum 2015-08-28
Proefschrift nr. 6099
Samenvatting door auteur toon abstract

Colourful green: Immigrants’ and non-immigrants’ recreational use of greenspace and their perceptions of nature

By Marjolein Eva Kloek


In various Western countries, such as in the Netherlands, both scholars and nature conservation organisations have described immigrants as under-participating in outdoor recreation. Because of the presumed positive effects of outdoor recreation on support for nature conservation, health and wellbeing, and social integration, low participation levels of immigrants have been perceived as a problem. However, few baseline data exist on immigrants’ actual participation levels, and we are lacking in differentiated knowledge on recreational behaviour reflecting a diversity of immigrant perspectives. As the number of immigrants in most Northwest European countries is growing, including in the Netherlands, it is important to gain a better understanding of their outdoor recreational behaviour.

In this dissertation I researched immigrants’ and non-immigrants’ recreational use of greenspace and their perceptions of nature. I did so by means of a qualitative empirical study and a quantitative empirical study among young adults from three different ethnic backgrounds in the Netherlands. For these studies I developed a theoretical framework based on the concept of identity, which argues that outdoor recreation is connected with people’s lives and with people’s multiple identities. As a framework based on identity incorporates multiple identities and does not reduce people to their ethnicity, it helps in looking beyond simple and ‘flat’ descriptions of behaviour of immigrants versus non-immigrants, without ruling out ethnicity. The empirical studies were conducted among young adults of Turkish, Chinese and non-immigrant descent in the Netherlands. Turkish immigrants currently form the largest group of non-western immigrants in the Netherlands. Statistics Netherlands predicts that Asians will become the largest group of non-western immigrants in the Netherlands within a few decades, and the largest group of Asian immigrants is of Chinese descent. The empirical studies only included second-generation immigrants and ‘1.5-generation’ immigrants who spent most of their youth in the Netherlands.

Chapter 2 provides an overview of existing Northwest European research on immigrants’ perceptions and recreational use of greenspace. This overview shows that research in this field, although growing, is still limited and fragmented. Three overarching themes can be distinguished in current studies: recreational use of greenspace, perceptions of greenspace and societal aspects of migration and greenspace. Various approaches exist within these themes, of which some were given far more attention than others. Within the theme ‘recreational use of greenspace’, studies have been done on recreational behaviour, on social inclusion and on access to greenspace. Studies on ‘perceptions of greenspace’ mainly focus on images of nature and landscape preferences and on embodied experiences of greenspace. Under the theme ‘societal aspects of migration and greenspace’, three rather distinct approaches can be grouped, namely national identity and rural racism, interculturalisation of nature organisations and social integration. Strong differences exist between countries in the number of studies carried out and the approaches used. By discussing three example countries – the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Germany – I show that differences in national research traditions reflect how immigrants are approached and typified in respective societies. Several knowledge gaps in current literature arise from this literature review. Firstly, a proper and careful reflection of the diversity of immigrant perspectives is lacking. Furthermore, links between outdoor recreation and perceptions of greenspace have not been properly researched, and explanatory factors are only superficially touched upon. Borders seem difficult to cross: learning processes and cooperation of scholars across approaches and countries are scarce. Lastly, current research often lacks an explicit theoretical framework.

I present the theoretical framework of this dissertation in Chapter 3. This theoretical framework has mainly been set up to understand and explain recreational behaviour in greenspace, but also takes less tangible issues into account, such as perceptions of nature. It is largely based on insights from ethnicity studies as well as from sociology and social psychology regarding the concept of identity. Central to identity theory is that people have multiple identities (for example gender identity, ethnic identity), which have subjective meanings, as they influence people’s subjective experiences and behaviour. In different situations, different identities may influence behaviour. My focus on identity concurs with a general development in social science thinking, where identity has become one of the main concepts. I distinguished three sensitising concepts, together forming an identity-based theoretical framework, in order to make identity theory applicable to study recreational behaviour: identity content, identity dimensions and identity processes. Identity content in the context of outdoor recreation is formed by associated behaviours, preferences, motivations and shared meanings. The multiple identities that people have can be categorised in two dimensions: personal and collective identities. Identity processes relate to how one identity or a cluster of identities becomes an ‘activated identity’. The activation of an identity depends on the context – that is on ascriptions by others and on the perceived ‘fit’ between the identity category and the way people understand the situation they are in – and on the centrality of the identity. This framework forms the basis for the next empirical chapters.

In Chapter 4 I present a qualitative study in which I focus on the multiple identities that are of influence on outdoor recreational behaviour and their subjective meanings. This chapter is based on nine group interviews with 42 young adults. Results show that personal identities alongside collective identities (particularly being a youngster and ethnic background) were perceived as important for outdoor recreation. These identities should not be interpreted as some people having one identity and others having another. People have multiple identities that are expressed in specific contexts. Frequent participants in outdoor recreation, which were present in small numbers in all ethnic groups, related their behaviour to personal identities, namely an environmental or a leisure identity. Being a ‘nature lover’ or ‘sailor’, for example, largely guided their outdoor recreational behaviour. In all ethnic groups, people without such a distinct

personal drive to go out into greenspace expressed that being a youngster was of great influence on their outdoor recreational behaviour. Descriptions of being a youngster in relation to outdoor recreation were quite similar throughout all groups. Most commonly, participants related being a youngster to a low frequency of outdoor recreation. Going outdoors to experience nature was not something youngsters would easily do. They did, however, participate in outdoor sports activities like running and social activities like hanging out in the park with their friends.

Ethnic identities also played an important role in outdoor recreation. These seemed to have a stronger effect on the recreational behaviour of Turkish than on that of Chinese immigrants. For a Turkish identity, daylong outings including a barbecue in which extended families of Turkish descent gather together, appeared to be important to the participants of Turkish descent in my study. However, these outings took place only a few times a year. Another aspect of a Turkish identity in relation to outdoor recreation that I found, is that it seems to be closely intertwined with a Muslim identity. Furthermore, besides being subjectively claimed, a Turkish identity is collectively ascribed as well, as participants of Turkish descent discussed a few occasions in which they felt others excluded them because of their Turkish background. Chinese immigrants in my research perceived their recreational behaviour mainly as being typically Dutch. Still, they felt that being of Chinese descent had some influence, particularly with respect to activities connected to food, such as picnicking or picking chestnuts, and practicing Tai Chi. They also found it typically Chinese to have a preference for comfort and a subsequent dislike of camping. This shows that acculturation does not progress at the same rate among ethnic groups; while it also shows that ethnic identity may be sustained among second- and maybe even later generations through certain recreational activities. Non-immigrant Dutch participants barely referred to an identity of ‘being Dutch’. For a dominant group, ethnic identity may be less visible and less salient as a result of their dominant status. Interestingly, although participants of Turkish and Chinese descent – and probably the general public in the Netherlands as well – perceive collecting food to be an activity strongly related to ethnicity, it is practiced among young adults of all ethnic groups included in this research, although perhaps in different ways. The multiplicity of people’s identities results in more heterogeneity between and within ethnic groups, as well as more homogeneity between immigrants and non-immigrants, than commonly described. This offers various opportunities for increasing inclusion in outdoor recreation. Immigrants with a strong leisure or environmental identity, for example, may act as ‘gatekeepers’ for larger networks of friends and family. Furthermore, reaching out to young adults could also attract young adult immigrants.

Chapter 5 considers immigrants’ and non-immigrants’ outdoor recreational behaviour from a quantitative perspective, based on a questionnaire among 1057 young adults which assessed, among others, their outdoor recreational behaviour in the previous three months. Differences between and within ethnic groups in outdoor recreational participation as well as in group size and motivations for recreation were considerable. In non-urban outdoor recreation, respondents of Chinese descent had lower participation levels than non-immigrants regarding both frequency and rate, while respondents of Turkish descent had a lower participation frequency than non-immigrants but a similar participation rate. Over 40% of the non-immigrants and Turkish immigrants participated in non-urban recreation, while only about 20% of the Chinese immigrants did so. Both respondents of Chinese and Turkish descent who visited non-urban green, on average did so half as often as non-immigrants. Regarding urban greenspace, 70% of the respondents of Turkish descent visited those areas, while this was the case for 56% of the non-immigrants and just 30% of the respondents of Chinese descent. Both respondents of Chinese and Turkish descent who visited urban green, on average did so slightly more often than non-immigrants. Motivations of respondents of Turkish descent were more social in orientation and they mainly participated in group-based activities. Respondents of Chinese descent had similar motivations as non-immigrant respondents, and preferred individual-based activities. Cluster analysis showed that several other factors besides ethnicity influence outdoor recreational behaviour, such as religiousness, location of residence (urban/more rural), educational level and age. Respondents also subjectively perceived various identities to be of influence on their outdoor recreational behaviour. Based on these results, I argue that under-participation is a misleading term to typify outdoor recreational behaviour of immigrants, as it overlooks differences between and within ethnic groups. Moreover, ‘under-participation’ also has ethical or moral connotations that can be put into question, as it assumes non-immigrants’ behaviour is the norm from which the behaviour of immigrants deviates.

Chapter 6 considers how immigrants and non-immigrants perceive nature or, more specifically, how they understand, value and experience nature. I show that perceptions of nature differ between ethnic groups on various dimensions. On a cognitive level, non-immigrants used the strictest boundaries to qualify green areas as nature. Turkish and especially Chinese immigrants expressed a more inclusive idea of what nature consists of. On a normative level, there was large consensus on the importance of nature conservation. However, motivations for nature conservation strongly differed between groups. Turkish immigrants most frequently articulated ecocentric and religious reasons to conserve nature, while Chinese immigrants stood out as expressing anthropocentric reasons to conserve nature most often. On an expressive level, differences between ethnic groups were small, as respondents in all groups generally had a rather neutral emotional connection to nature. Traditional cultural representations of nature as described in literature partly seemed to resonate in immigrants’ and non-immigrants’ perceptions of nature. Non-immigrants’ understandings of nature, for example, match well with a Western view of nature in which nature is defined in opposition to culture as the domain of spontaneous phenomena and processes. Their views possibly also reflect the recent emphasis on wilderness in the public debate on nature conservation in the Netherlands. Chinese immigrants’ more inclusive idea of nature may resemble traditional Daoist/Confucian views of nature, in which nature is not so much defined in opposition to culture, but in which heaven, earth and humans are seen as interconnected. Islam played an important role in representations of nature of Turkish immigrants, as they often discussed the value of nature in religious terms. Traditional cultural representations of nature cannot explain all differences between ethnic groups. Some of these differences can better be attributed to recent cultural developments. For example, results of non-immigrants on the normative level match with what has been described as the recent gradual shift from predominantly utilitarian views towards more ecocentric approaches in Western societies. Besides ethnicity, other factors such as location of residence and age also influenced perceptions of nature. I argue that there is a potential for support for nature conservation in all ethnic groups. However, this may not directly lead to active involvement in nature conservation, as, among others, current Western conservation practices may not really resonate with representations of nature among immigrant groups.

Chapter 7 – the final chapter – starts out with a synthesis of the main results on the recreational behaviour of immigrants and non-immigrants. I argue that when assessing participation levels in outdoor recreation it is important to make distinctions between and within ethnic groups, between urban and non-urban greenspace, between participation rate and frequency, and between different activities. Furthermore, I argue that it is important to consider how outdoor recreation is connected with people’s multiple identities. Identity theory can help in overcoming current challenges in leisure and recreation studies, particularly with regards to addressing complexity. From outdoor recreation, this chapter then turns to nature conservation. Based on data on volunteering and memberships of nature conservation organisations, I show that relationships between outdoor recreation and active involvement in nature conservation were not strong in my studies. This final chapter ends with five practical recommendations for policy and management, namely to reflect on the motivations for reaching out to immigrant groups; to recognise diversity between immigrant groups; to look beyond ethnicity (but not to forget it); to acknowledge the multiplicity and contextuality of recreational behaviour; and to question Dutch/Western views on recreation and nature (conservation) as being ‘the standard’.

All of this for even more colourful green.



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Trefwoorden (cab) natuur / recreatieactiviteiten / recreatie / omgevingspsychologie / perceptie / immigranten
Rubrieken Vrije tijd, recreatie, toerisme (algemeen) / Omgevingspsychologie
Publicatie type Proefschrift
Taal Engels
Toelichting Natuurorganisaties, waaronder Staatsbosbeheer, hebben sterke vermoedens dat allochtone Nederlanders minder in de natuur komen dan autochtone Nederlanders. Ook bij natuurorganisaties in andere westerse landen, zoals in Duitsland en het Verenigd Koninkrijk, leeft het idee dat allochtonen weinig in de natuur komen. Omdat recreatie in de natuur mogelijk het draagvlak voor natuurbeheer vergroot en een positief effect heeft op gezondheid, welzijn en sociale integratie, wordt ‘onder-participatie’ in recreatie in de natuur als zorgelijk gezien. Er zijn echter weinig harde cijfers over het natuurbezoek van allochtonen. Ook is weinig bekend over verschillen in recreatief gedrag tussen groepen allochtonen van diverse komaf. In dit proefschrift is onderzocht hoe allochtonen en autochtonen in Nederland recreëren in de groene ruimte en hoe ze denken over natuur
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