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Leisure Sciences, 30: 391408, 2008 Copyright C Taylor & Francis Group, LLC ISSN: 0149-0400 print / 1521-0588

online DOI: 10.1080/01490400802353083

Come on in, but not too Far: Social Capital in an Inclusive Leisure Setting
Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Management Kent State University Kent, Ohio, USA
The purpose of this research was to explore the nature of relationships that develop in an inclusive youth camp context using the framework of social capital. Inclusive recreation contexts are designed to promote awareness and minimize differences among participants with and without disabilities. Eight campers including four with disabilities and four without disabilities ranging in age from 12-16 were interviewed. Three conceptual categories were constructed related to social capital: reciprocity and investment, inclusion as camouage, and roles played in mediating social capital. Findings indicate that social relationships among the campers were mixed in their facilitation of social capital. The assertion that social structures are hierarchical and reect relative positions of status, power, and prestige was evident in this context. Keywords camp, individuals with disabilities, leisure context, social capital

Despite legislation and changes in attitudes, policies, and practices involving individuals with disabilities, individuals with disabilities continue to experience feelings of isolation, marginalization, and powerlessness on both individual and societal levels (Bedini, 2002; Devine, 2004; Sable & Gravnik, 2005). These feelings are due in part to a lack of contact between individuals with and without disabilities (Biklen, 2000). Mainstreaming individuals with disabilities into aspects of society was initially developed in the educational environment to promote contact between children with and without disabilities (Wolfensberger, 1972). The concept was based on the premise that individuals with disabilities would be placed in and required to adapt to an environment with those who did not have disabilities. Thus people with disabilities would benet from immersion into the most normalized least restrictive environment possible (Wolfensberger, 1972). While a good deal of literature supports the benets of contact between individuals with and without disabilities in inclusive recreation settings to address attitudinal barriers (Bedini, 2002; Place & Hodge, 2001; Slininger, Sherrill, & Jankowski, 2000; Tripp, French, & Sherrill, 1995), less evident is the impact or benet of contact on the formation of social capital. Social capital refers to the ability of actors to secure benets by virtue of membership in social networks or other social structures (Portes, 1998, p. 6). The importance of social capital relative to leisure behavior has recently re-emerged in the leisure literature (e.g., Arai & Pedlar, 2003; Glover, 2004a, 2004b; Hemingway, 1999, 2001, 2006), and the
Received 1 August 2006; accepted 18 September 2007. This paper is based on a presentation at the 2005 Leisure Research Symposium in San Antonio, Texas. Address correspondence to Mary Ann Devine, Recreation, Parks and Tourism Management, Kent State University, PO Box 5190, Kent, OH 44242. E-mail: mdevine@kent.edu



M. A. Devine and M. G. Parr

Journal of Leisure Research recently published a special issue devoted to the topic (2005, 37(4)). In their introduction to this special issue, Glover and Hemingway (2005) noted that despite this increased attention, however, social capital remains surprisingly underexamined in leisure studies (p. 388). In particular, social capital in relation to inclusion of individuals with disabilities in recreation contexts has not been examined. Therefore we sought to understand the nature of the relationships that developed in an inclusive youth camp context using the framework of social capital. We reviewed literature about inclusive leisure, engagement in inclusive contexts, and social capital.

Literature Review
Inclusive Leisure Inclusive leisure contexts enable individuals with and without disabilities to engage in leisure together. Inclusion is based on the premise that least restrictive and integrated environments benet both individuals with and without disabilities in that all could experience the positive physical, cognitive, emotional and social outcomes of recreation participation (Schleien, Hornfeldt, & McAvoy, 1994). Through social contact in inclusive settings, individuals with disabilities have the opportunity to demonstrate valued abilities and personality characteristics, and thereby gain social acceptance (Tripp et al., 1995). Friendship development, which is predicated on social acceptance, has been cited as a motivation for participation of individuals with disabilities in inclusive recreation activities (Bullock & Mahon, 1997; Schleien & Heyne, 1997). Devine and Dattilo (2000) reported that individuals with disabilities who perceived they were socially accepted were more satised with the leisure experience. Individuals with disabilities have also reported they use inclusive leisure engagement to proactively construct elements of social acceptance by taking deliberate and subtle actions to gain acceptance by peers (Bedini, 2002; Devine & Lashua, 2002). Community-based leisure experiences have yielded opportunities for individuals with disabilities to embrace their disabilities and successfully cope with social stigma (Bedini, 2002). Contact theory (Allport, 1954) was used to frame the original data collection for this study. This theory has been used to explain behavior of individuals with and without disabilities in inclusive contexts. This theory assumes that interaction between people with differences will inuence changes in attitudes toward one another given certain conditions (Allport, 1954). Studies using contact theory have predominately examined settings (Slinginger et al., 2000) as well as quality of and conditions under which contact occurred (Roper, 1990a, 1990b). Results of these and other inquiries revealed that contact that is structured and where rights were respected, reciprocity occurred, and leisure interests were shared yielded positive attitudes of individuals without disabilities toward those with disabilities (Makas, 1993; Slinginger et al.; Tripp et al., 1995; Wilhite, Devine, & Goldenberg, 1999). On the other hand, conditions that predominantly had informal contact among participants were physically competitive in nature, and where expectations were narrow about skills and functional abilities produced more negative attitudes and paternalistic perceptions of persons with disabilities (Devine & Wilhite, 1999). Studies examining the social/psychological components of inclusive leisure environments have been framed using theories such as self-determination (e.g., Dattilo & Barnett, 1985; Deci & Ryan, 1985; Hill & Sibthorp, 2006; Loy & Dattilo, 2000; Williams & Dattilo, 1997), social construction (e.g., Berger & Luckmann, 1966; Devine & Dattilo, 2000), or contact theory (e.g., Allport, 1954; Roper, 1990a, 1990b; Slinginger et al., 2000). These studies demonstrated that for individuals with disabilities, positive outcomes

Social Capital in an Inclusive Leisure Setting


(e.g., self-determination, social acceptance, leisure satisfaction) are associated with inclusive leisure when: (a) individuals with disabilities have opportunities to exercise choice and autonomy, (b) active participation and empowerment is fostered, and (c) goals can be attained. Individuals with disabilities have also reported that they use inclusive leisure engagement to proactively construct elements of social acceptance by taking deliberate and subtle actions to gain acceptance by peers (Bedini, 2002; Devine & Lashua, 2002). Evidence suggests that individuals with disabilities tend to put forth great effort to construct positive meanings of disability (Bedini & Henderson, 1994; Devine, 2004; Devine & Wilhite, 2000). From a different perspective, individuals with and without disabilities have characterized inclusive experiences as contexts that bridge social barriers (Devine, 2004; Grenier, 2006; Sable & Bocarro, 2004). When inclusion served as a connector for participants, the staff played a pivotal role in facilitating bridges especially when they served as role models for positive attitudes and behavioral expectations (Conatser, Block, & Lepore, 2000; Devine, 2003/2004; Devine & Lashua, 2002; Grenier, 2006). For individuals without disabilities, social contact enhances their sense of comfort and condence about what to do and say around peers with disabilities (Slininger et al., 2000; Wilhite et al., 1999). However, other studies have found that social contact may not be enough in and of itself to realize desired benets of inclusive engagement (Devine, 2004; Jones, 2003/2004; Lodish et al., 2006). While inclusion of individuals with and without disabilities has primarily been characterized as a positive means of leisure engagement (Bullock & Mahon, 1997; Dattilo, 2002; Smith, Austin, & Kennedy, 1996), the possible adverse or negative consequences of inclusive leisure engagement are poorly understood. Outcome of Engagement in Inclusive Contexts Most studies have revealed that barriers to satisfying inclusive leisure engagement lie not in physical access but the social/psychological aspects of this interaction (Bedini, 2002; Devine & Lashua, 2002; Jones, 2003/2004; NOD/Harris, 2004). Several studies reported the negative effects of ones disability associated with inclusion. Specically, the more severe the individuals limitations especially if the limitations involve social or behavioral aspects, the more they perceive to be stigmatized (Bedini, 2002) and the less socially accepted they feel (Devine & Lashua, 2002; Wilhite et al., 1999). In addition, when individuals limitations are socially or behaviorally based, peers without disabilities have reported a more negative attitude toward inclusion (Slininger et al., 2000). Two investigations on social acceptance in these contexts found that the less socially accepted individuals with disabilities perceive themselves to be, the lower the frequency of and intention to participate in inclusive leisure (Devine & Dattilo, 2000; Devine & Lashua, 2002). Wilhite and colleagues (1999) found that the more competitive the context, the greater the belief that recreation skills of individuals with and without disabilities were unequal. In particular, the belief centered around the skills of those without disabilities as being better than those with disabilities. Thus, competition was not only diluted, but unfair. To counter negative metaphors of disability, Goodwin, Thurmeier, and Gustafson (2004) found that dispelling myths about the abilities of individuals with disabilities to engage in physical activity was important. As previously stated, the role of staff was critical for modeling positive attitudes and behavioral expectations. Staff also played a role in further entrenching negative attitudes about the inclusion process, stereotypes, and overprotectiveness of participants with disabilities, and perpetuating disability labels (Conatser, Block, & Lepore, 2000; Devine, 2004; Grenier, 2006; Tripp & Rizzo, 2006). Conclusions drawn from these inquiries leave some researchers wondering what other factors are in play in these contexts and what can be done to minimize these negative effects.


M. A. Devine and M. G. Parr

If inclusive leisure contexts continue to proclaim to promote greater social connections among participants with and without disabilities and facilitate quality of life, then these factors must be examined. Social capital is one paradigm that posits investments in social relations can result in positive outcomes for the individual as well as negative consequences. Examples of negative consequences include exclusion of outsiders, excess claims on group members, restrictions on individual freedoms and downward leveling norms (Glover & Hemingway, 2005; Portes, 1998). This framework has not been explored in inclusive contexts, which leaves a gap in the body of knowledge regarding how social relationships in inclusive contexts might promote mutual benets and quality of life.

Social Capital Denitions and conceptualizations of social capital, its outcomes and its precursors abound. Portes (1998) concluded the consensus is growing in the literature that social capital stands for the ability of actors to secure benets by virtue of membership in social networks or other social structures (p. 6). Two types of resources are inherent in the concept of social capital: the desired benet (i.e., resource) held by a member of the group, and the relationships among members of the social network that allow access to the desired benet. These benets may take the form of human, physical, cultural, symbolic and/or additional social capital. In the inclusive camp context, certain campers may possess knowledge of the camps facilities and routine (human capital), extra stamps for letters home (physical capital), leadership qualities (cultural capital), counselor-in-training status (symbolic capital), and/or existing friendships from previous years (additional social capital). Newton (1997) proposed that social capital may be conceptualized in terms of three elements: a) norms and values, b) networks and c) consequences. Social capital is based on norms of reciprocity and trust. Social relationships become capital when those relationships facilitate access to desired resources, which in turn may provide additional access to further resources. For example, since camper A and B are friends, B shares the secret shortcut with A. Further, because A and B are friends, A trusts that B is not misleading her. B trusts the favor will be returned in some way. Both campers accept the norms of reciprocity and trust associated with being friends. However, the question of whether social networks produce trustworthiness or trust is a prerequisite for network development remains unclear. Do members of a group come to trust each other as a result of their interactions, or is trust required for relationships to develop? Bourdieu (1986) implied that the relationships in a social structure that produce social capital require investment. They do not just happen by virtue of proximity. Participants at a summer camp represent a social structure. However, just because they all attend the camp does not mean relationships among the campers will develop. The staff may facilitate these relationships by having campers work together and play together but the extent of the relationship development depends on the investment of each of the campers. According to Bourdieu, these relationships may develop for conscious or unconscious gains (e.g., Im going to make friends with camper A because she gets great care packages from home that she might share with me, vs. because camper A and I are friends, Ill bet shell share her care package with me.) Social capital can also be conceptualized at both the micro and macro levels (Woolcock, 1998). Glover and Hemingway (2005) described these levels as a resource approach (i.e., micro level) and a civic approach (i.e., macro level) to understanding social capital and its potential outcomes. The resource approach examines social capital as access to resources available within social networks, resources that are used in purposive action to establish or maintain individual and group advantages (Glover & Hemmingway, 2005, p. 394). The

Social Capital in an Inclusive Leisure Setting


civic approach examines the connection between social capital and civic engagement. We adopted a resource approach to understand the development and use of social capital in the analysis of these data. This approach assisted in determining what the resources were, who had access to the resources, and how the resources served to establish or maintain social status. Lin (2001) proposed that social structures tend to be hierarchical and relationships within the structure are rank-ordered usually in terms of class, authority, and/or status. This idea suggests that ones position in the network confers relative advantage or disadvantage in access, resources and power. In the language of social capital, individuals who start with more resources (including relationships) end up with more because of the norm of reciprocity. If a person has a considerable amount of desired resources relative to other members of the group, he or she can expect to be borrowed from more frequently than other members of the group. The second assumption is that a person who occupies a high position relative to one resource is also likely to hold a high position relative to another resource. Relative to a youth camp structure, someone who is popular is also likely to be powerful. Finally, structures tend to be pyramidal with relatively fewer positions at the top. Due to historically based (mis)perceptions about individuals with disabilities, inclusive leisure settings may reect a hierarchical social structure (Devine & Lashua, 2002). People without disabilities are perceived as holding more desired resources (e.g., social status, valued life skills, friendships). Individuals with disabilities desire to join the group, but must prove they have desirable resources to gain access to the existing social structure. Expressive actions are undertaken to maintain the resources of the individual and/or the network (Lin, 2001). Hypothetically in the inclusive camp setting, campers without disabilities have a perception of camp, what behaviors and activities occur, and certain expectations of events. They may engage in expressive behaviors to make sure the inclusion of campers with disabilities does not impede on their desired camp experience. They may invest in the inclusion process to the extent that they believe such investment will not unduly compromise their desired camp experience (i.e., resources will be maintained). Campers have favorite activities that may or may not be accessible to an individual with a disability. The conict occurs when highly desired activities are off limits because they are not accessible to all. Non-disabled participants may perceive that they are giving something up because the accessible activities are less desirable. By investing in relationships with campers with disabilities, the nondisabled camper may feel justied in requesting access to activities and experiences that are more desirable. Instrumental actions are undertaken to gain additional resources for the individual or group (Lin, 2001). Campers with disabilities may choose to attend an inclusive camp to gain social acceptance (i.e., a desired resource) from their nondisabled peers. This resource may be qualitatively different than what is available among a network of peers with disabilities. While the goal of inclusive leisure contexts may be to create an environment where individuals come together to create a new social structure, in reality those with disabilities may be gaining access to an existing social structure. Individuals with disabilities will likely be motivated to demonstrate that they have desirable resources available for exchange. In return, individuals with disabilities receive opportunities to participate in recreation activities and reap all its incumbent benets. Furthermore, relationships in the network are predicated on the principle of homophilous interactions. The closer or more similar the social positions, the more likely occupants will interact with one another. An expressive action motivates the individual to seek out others with similar characteristics and lifestyles in order to share and conde so that the expected return, sympathetic and appreciative understanding and counseling, can be obtained (Lin, 2001, p. 59). Since one principle of inclusive contexts is a focus on


M. A. Devine and M. G. Parr

equal status among participants with and without disabilities to balance historically unequal social status (Tripp et al., 1995), exploring the tenets of this principle in other leisure contexts, particularly inclusive contexts, would better inform scholars about the social aspects of leisure. Statement of the Problem The purpose of inclusive leisure contexts is to create awareness of similarities (e.g., leisure interests) rather than focus on differences (e.g., walking vs. using a wheelchair to ambulate; Devine, 2005). Along the lines of contact theory (Allport, 1954), social capital assumes that providing opportunities for interaction among individuals with and without disabilities may promote awareness of potential shared resources (e.g., a common interest and skill in knitting) and what individuals have to offer to each other (e.g., teaching each other new knitting techniques). Given the philosophy and intent of inclusive leisure contexts, little is known about aspects of social capital in these environments. Data for this analysis were originally collected and examined using contact theory (Allport, 1954) to better understand the complexities of interactions between youth with and without disabilities in an inclusive setting. The intent of the initial analysis was to examine attitudes of campers with and without disabilities given interpersonal contact under certain conditions of the camp context (Devine & OBrien, in press). During original analysis, ndings emerged that could not be explained using this theory. Specically, campers described complexities of their relationships in terms of resources and desired outcomes. After an extensive review of various theories that could bring clarity to this data, social capital was considered particularly relevant as it explains human behavior in terms of resources that facilitate access to desired outcomes. Thus, a second analysis of the data was undertaken using a social capital framework. The purpose of this analysis was to: (a) understand the conditions of the inclusive camp activities relative to the development and use of social capital, (b) understand ways that the inclusive context extends or impedes the sense of social capital, and (c) understand the roles played in this context relative to the campers sense of social capital.

Qualitative methods were selected to collect and analyze data as these approaches were most appropriate to answer the research questions. Social capital theory was solely used as the framework to guide this secondary data analysis and it was applied in several ways. First, the social structure within the camp setting was examined to understand the nature of reciprocal exchanges. Next, the notion of using social structures and social networks to gain benets was applied to examine ways in which the inclusive context extends or impedes the sense of social capital. Last, the principle of social capital that assumes people play specic roles to secure benets was applied to analyzing the roles the campers played to gain a sense of social capital. Study Setting The study was conducted at a residential summer camp in the Midwest. Campers 7-15 years old participated in a ve-night experience that included an array of recreation activities (e.g.,

Social Capital in an Inclusive Leisure Setting


swimming, canoeing, ropes courses, horseback riding). The camp is physically accessible and had been providing structured inclusive experiences for eight years at the time of the study. A residential camp was selected because, in this type of setting, campers have a high degree of contact including meals, sleep-time, and unscheduled time as well as scheduled activities. A high degree of contact provided a context for campers to get to know each other more personally beyond simply sharing certain leisure preferences. The quantity of contact allowed for various types of relationships (e.g., personal, casual) to develop as well. This particular camp was selected due to its well-grounded philosophy, mission, history and record of offering inclusive experiences. In addition, this camp had a high rate of returning campers (75%) from previous years. The camp is specically marketed across North America as offering inclusive experiences. Thus, registered campers were aware that a camper with a disability may be engaging in the same camp session and be a member of their group. Study Participants Individuals with disabilities were selected using purposive sampling. In this sense, individuals who exhibited characteristics of central importance to the purpose of the investigation were deliberately selected. Pairs of campers with and without disabilities were selected to be interviewed if they met the characteristics of central importance: camp attendance in previous years with prior knowledge of the camps inclusive practices, assignment to the same camp cabin, willingness to talk about their experiences and a high degree of contact with each other. A high degree of contact was determined if the pairs of campers participated together for at least four hours each day in various activities (Singleton & Asher, 1977). Eight campers met these criteria and all agreed to be interviewed, four with disabilities and four without. The two male and six female research participants ranged in age from 12-16 and represented the European American race and Hispanic ethnicities (see Table 1). The disabilities included Aspergers Syndrome, cerebral palsy and spinal muscular atrophy. Campers not only participated in activities for at least four hours each day with each other, but also were assigned the same cabin for sleeping, conducting personal care and spending unscheduled time together. In each instance, the camper with the disability was the only camper who had a disability during the week he or she attended the camp. Data Collection and Analysis Data were collected over four different weeks of camp sessions attended by the participants. One face-to-face interview was conducted separately with each participant in a private TABLE 1 Research Participant Pairs Research participant pairs Hannah and Irene Jeff and Pedro Marissa and Tiffany Ashley and Jennifer

Age 13 13 16 13 12 12 16 15

Disability Spinal Muscular Atrophy None Aspergers Syndrome ADHD None Aspergers Syndrome None Cerebral Palsy, global developmental delay None


M. A. Devine and M. G. Parr

TABLE 2 Sample Interview Questions Primary Questions What do you like best/least about camp? What types of things are going on when you feel good about camp? Who do you feel youve gotten/have not gotten to know at camp? What kinds of things do you have in common? What kinds of things can you count on from your fellow campers? How does your group make decisions about activities or things to do? Does everyone contribute to group decisions? How do you feel you work together with your fellow campers? Subquestions What type of things are going on when you dont feel so good about camp? What do you know about your fellow campers? What would you like to know about those whom you dont know very well? If you were in a situation here at camp where you needed help with something, who would be the rst person youd ask? Why that person? Who would be the rst person to ask you for help if they needed it? How are campers encouraged to contribute to group decisions? What else could be done to encouraged campers to contribute to group decisions? Issues Probed Role of camp counselors in promoting social inclusion, making accommodations, or meeting needs of all campers. Level of interdependence between campers. Level of social acceptance between campers. What contributed to high degrees of social acceptance or low social acceptance? Perceptions of social identity/sense of belonging. Perceptions of disability. setting by one researcher. The interview lasted 4570 minutes and was conducted using a semi-structured guide including primary and subquestions as well as issues in which to probe (see Table 2). Interviews were tape-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Overall, each interview was conducted and completed without signicant obstacles or challenges. Field notes were composed based on reections following each interview. Reections included mood or demeanor of research participants, researcher perceptions of the overall interview, and questions that may be asked in the follow-up process. Constant comparison method was used to analyze the data from a social capital framework. According to Preissle Goetz and LeCompte (1981), the purpose of constant comparison is to generate statements of relationships between social behaviors. Glaser and Strauss (1967) recommended using this procedure to clarify relationships within and between categories. In applying this method of analysis, inductive or general category coding was combined with a simultaneous comparison of social incidents such as specic interactions between campers (Preissle Goetz & LeCompte, 1981). Phenomena under study were recorded, classied, and compared across categories. Prior to this second analysis of data, a coding system based on social capital theory was developed and included constructs such as interdependence, social structure, reciprocity, mutual benets and social identity or bonding. Ideas about categories and themes were generated by the researchers as transcripts were read, re-read, and analyzed. Data that were similar in nature and informed the research questions were grouped into general categories titled: perceptions, context and roles. Properties and dimensions of these

Social Capital in an Inclusive Leisure Setting


general categories identied through analysis of the transcripts were interpreted to increase the understanding of the variability, depth and breadth of the categories. The analyses in this paper were neither conducted nor reported with the intention of offering generalizations. The intent was to describe social capital and the variations of an inclusive leisure environment to determine perceptions of the campers experience. However, analytical and theoretical generalizability may be gleaned from this study. Data representation. The issue of representing data from naturalistic inquiries includes trustworthiness or how well the results of the study capture reality as it is constructed between the researcher and the study participant (Lincoln & Guba, 1985). The challenge to qualitative researchers is how the voice of study participants is represented in writings. Filtering our own interpretations and meanings of the data was difcult and, inevitably, the researchers voice becomes the privileged voice. According to Hutchinson and Samdahl (2000), all analyses are limited and ltered through the lens of the researcher (p. 245) and limitations are an inherent part of all research. Thus, limitations of the ndings of this analysis lie in our lens. Typical techniques were undertaken to best construct interpretations (e.g., member checks, eld notes, use of three data analyzers) and information discovered was used as additional data instead of verications of reality. After data were analyzed, member checks were conducted with one researcher involved in the original project, but not active with this data analysis. This researcher reviewed the analysis and contacted study participants via telephone for their input on the interpretation. Input was used to support or refute analysis. After conceptualizing categories, an additional review of the literature was conducted to provide theoretical conrmation of concepts examined. Data were discussed in terms of categories that were identied related to the role of social capital. Within each category, data were identied by examining the conditions of the camp relative to campers perceptions of social capital concepts, the context as it supports or impedes the sense of social capital, and roles played in this setting relative to the campers sense of social capital.

Findings and Relation to Theory and Literature

Findings indicated that inclusive leisure contexts can serve as a mixed determinant of social capital. Three conceptual categories were identied in relation to this concept: reciprocity and investment, inclusion as camouage and roles played in mediating social capital. In addition to these main themes, sub-themes or dimensions were created within each category. Reciprocity and Investment According to Hemingway (1999), social capital is grounded in a perspective that emphasizes human reciprocal interconnectedness. It assumes that people are connected through a specic social structure (e.g., family) with a give-and-take of benets and obligations. In the inclusive camp setting, social capital best ts Portes (1998) description of instrumental social capital in the form of reciprocal exchanges. Individuals who provide benets can expect to be repaid in some way. Individuals receiving benets are obligated to give something back indicating the reciprocal nature of social capital. Mutual trust exists that obligations and expectations will be honored. Reciprocity and investment were relevant to social capital for some campers in this context. This theme focused on the differences in perceptions of reciprocity and investment among campers with and without disabilities. Overall, campers without disabilities perceived that they invested in social capital but were unclear about how they would be recipients or beneciaries of mutual investments by their peers with disabilities. On the


M. A. Devine and M. G. Parr

other hand, campers with disabilities expressed several ways in which they perceived they were investing in the group as well as gave examples of being the beneciaries of others investments. Within this theme, subthemes of forgoing participation (e.g., asking the person with the disability to not participate to accomplish a group goal) and variations in the notion of reciprocity (e.g., one group has a resource to offer, but that resource is not necessarily wanted or valued by the other group) were evident. In discussing her perceptions of give-and-take among campers, Jennifer stated, I know it [inclusion] is the right thing to do so that is why Im putting forth some effort to include her [camper with disability]. I know I can help her with things and that is the right thing to do. In return for assisting her peer with a disability, Jennifer offered that she felt good about helping and doing the right thing, but alluded that she did not expect much in return. She was uncertain as regarding how her peer with a disability could assist her or reciprocate her investment. Pedro expressed that inclusion was good for him [camper with disability] and makes him happy, but I dont know about it for me. I mean I dont know how it is good for me. Another dimension of this theme was the perception on the part of campers without disabilities to ask those with disabilities to forgo participation (e.g., stay behind) in the effort to accomplish a group goal (e.g., hiking a path that is not wheelchair accessible). The perception appeared to reect a sentiment that because those without disabilities felt positive about their role and investment in the inclusion process, (i.e., their accumulation of social chits Portes, 1998, p. 7), as well as uncertainty about what they would get in return from their peers, it was acceptable to ask those with disabilities not to participate in a group activity for the sake of the group. For instance, Tiffany described a situation where she felt it was acceptable for her group to ask Marissa not to participate in a drama activity because Marissas behavior would be too disruptive. Tiffany stated, Im not sure what she would be able to do anyway and it would be so hard to do it [the skit], so we asked her to just be in the audience. Marissas response to this request was one of a mix of acceptance and resignation. On one hand, she accepted that she probably would not enjoy participating in the activity, so not being involved was suitable to her. Yet she also felt the members of her group did not totally understand or accept her and thus dismissed her potential contributions at times. She expressed, Sometimes they think I cant do things or do things like them so I just hang back and dont do it. The social capital available to people is determined by the nature of ties to others in the network as well as the types and amounts of resources controlled by the other members (Hemingway, 2006). In this camp situation campers without disabilities controlled not only the nature of the reciprocity but the resources associated with it by asking the camper with the disability to forgo her participation to accomplish the group goal. Coleman (1988) referred to this social structure as norms and sanctions, which is a form of social capital that encourages group members to act for the good of the group even if the action or request does not benet the individual member. Because of her investment in the social structure, Tiffany felt comfortable asking Marissa to forgo participation for the good of the group. Although in this case, it is unclear what reward Marissa received for agreeing to go along with the request is unclear. Campers with disabilities expressed several ways they perceived they were investing in the group as well as gave examples of being the beneciaries of others investments. The campers with disabilities generally felt their participation was reciprocal because of their social or awareness contributions. Marissa told jokes at dinner each night and said that was her way of providing the group with some humor, which was her investment in social capital. Ashley who had mild cognitive delays stated that her inclusion in camp activities

Social Capital in an Inclusive Leisure Setting


was good for her and the other kids so they could get to know kids like me. She also expressed an increased sense of connectedness to others when she was the recipient of their assistance. Jeff felt the reciprocity of his participation allowed the group to nish activities such as low ropes courses and canoe races. Although all campers perceived they engaged in reciprocal behaviors, reciprocity meant different things and a social hierarchy within the camp structure was evident (Lin, 2001). Campers without disabilities saw themselves as helping agents and having the resources desired by campers with disabilities. On the other hand, campers with disabilities perceived their resources as awareness-creating in nature (e.g., increasing campers without disabilities level of social acceptance) but not necessarily desired by campers without disabilities. Knowledge of and attention to obligations and expectations of roles played within a social structure such as this camp strengthened the degree of social capital (Hemingway, 1999). Lin (2001) contended that the closer or more similar the social positions, the more likely the players will interact reciprocally. This idea brings into question whether the expectations of reciprocity of campers with disabilities were less than the campers without disabilities created a hierarchical structure. Campers with disabilities perceived that they had resources to offer and resources they desired from the group, but the campers without disabilities tended to perceive the exchange as more one-sided. They perceived they had something to offer but were unclear what, if anything, the campers with disabilities had to offer in exchange. This nding also requires further examination of the importance of the interconnectedness of participants in inclusive contexts (Glover & Hemingway, 2005). According to Putnam (1995), a key indicator of the presence of social capital is equality. He characterized equality as horizontal rather than vertical patterns of social reciprocity. While some theorists disagree with this notion (e.g., Lin, 2001), promotion of equality is a distinctive feature of inclusive leisure practices (Schleien & Heyne, 1997; Tripp et al., 1995). In the inclusion literature, equity has been examined and importance highlighted from the perspective of creating satisfying experiences (Devine, 2003/2004), promoting positive meanings of disability (Devine & Wilhite, 2000), addressing barriers encountered by individuals with disabilities (Jones, 2003/2004) and promoting positive attitudes toward individuals with disabilities (Slininger et al., 2000). Bedini (2002) discussed the importance of equity in inclusive settings from the perspective of individuals with disabilities who selfadvocate to address and cope with stigma. The current study appears to accentuate a lack of equity on multiple levels particularly when campers were asked to forgo participation. Inclusion as Camouage The second theme from this camp study was the inclusive environment as a cloak or camouage for the inequities in social capital. Social capital is context specic and not a widely accepted cultural norm, but an expectation attached to a specic context or social network (Glover & Hemingway, 2005) such as a camp environment. The expectation of inclusion contexts is to promote valued participation by all, promote interdependence, and embrace, bridge, or minimize differences. However, the inclusive camp context appeared to accentuate the differences between the two groups and at times be exclusionary (Glover, 2004b). Campers without disabilities more than their peers with disabilities not only expressed more sentiment about differences but also discomfort with those differences. The subtheme identied within this theme was characterized as highlighting instead of minimizing differences. Specically, although the nature of inclusive environments is to focus on participant similarities rather than differences, in certain situations differences were more glaring than not between and among campers. Campers without disabilities frequently stated a great deal of effort was needed on their part and the part of the staff to include their peers with disabilities and particularly those


M. A. Devine and M. G. Parr

campers who had cognitive or behavioral impairments. Tiffany stated, It is just exhausting some times to deal with her [camper with disability]. I mean she needs constant attention and she says the weirdest things. Sometimes I just cant do it. When issues of valued participation were explored, Pedro had this response: Hes a part of the group because we let him. I mean like he likes to go rst so we let him. Tiffany also expressed that she felt it was unusual that campers with and without disabilities would participate in the camp together: I mean it is so weird, it just promotes gossip and makes everyone uncomfortable. Inclusive leisure contexts may camouage societys typical response to individuals with disabilities. For instance, campers without disabilities expressed frustration with the amount of effort it took to include their peer with a disability. They also expressed that the notion of inclusion was not a natural consequence, but instead a forced situation. Thus, while the concepts and spirit of inclusion were an inherent part of this camp, relationships that reected the sense of community and social capital were not always apparent. Grenier (2006) discussed the importance of considering societys perceptions of individuals with disabilities when facilitating inclusive leisure services. She recommended directly addressing stigmas and stereotypes expressed by those without disabilities to promote acceptance of individuals with disabilities. According to Glover and Hemingway (2005), the creation and maintenance of social capital depends on the creation and maintenance of social ties. Social ties between and among people with and without disabilities continue to be weak (Bedini, 2002; Devine, 2004). Even though weak ties may be advantageous in some situations (for examples, see Granovetter, 1973; Lin, 2001; Portes, 1998), the goal of inclusive recreation is to promote strong ties among participants. For example, members of the group have similar resources or are perceived as having equal footing with the capacity to contribute to the group. Despite good intentions, inclusive leisure environments may be contributing to this weak social capital. For instance, a strong social sentiment existed that people with disabilities are included in recreation activities because those without disabilities allow or, as Pedro termed it let them participate. This idea reects strong ties and weak ties. These data indicate an existence and maintenance of weak ties among members with dissimilar resources. The campers with disabilities were perceived as having less to offer to the group. On the other hand, active and involved membership in this inclusive context, which is necessary for the building of social capital, was evidenced (Putnam, 2000). One way this context promoted active and involved membership was through bridging social capital (Lin, 2001). Bridging social capital is a type of capital that brings people together who are unlike one another and who otherwise might not be involved. In the absence of the bridge, the social capital would either not exist or it would break up. Inclusive environments have long been considered bridging contexts between people with and without disabilities (Bullock & Mahon, 1997; Sable, 1995; Schleien, Hornfeldt, & McAvoy, 1994). The idea behind inclusive recreation contexts mirrors the concept of bridging because it goes beyond merely integrating persons with disabilities. Making choices, being supported, and valued by all is included (Bullock & Mahon, 1997). Bridging in the camp context was most evident in the activities that were organized but not competitive in nature. In these contexts, campers with and without disabilities appeared to be most open to the tenet and spirit of inclusion. In addition, the camp staff served as role models for behaviors, attitudes and approaches in the inclusion contexts. An example of these points can be demonstrated by Jennifer. She remarked that participation in the activities encourages us to be friendly and just talk to each other, and forget about the disability and work together. She also felt that the essence of the camp was acceptance of differences, it means we have things in common, not just things that arent the same. Irene noted she specically chose to attend an inclusive camp because it was a

Social Capital in an Inclusive Leisure Setting


new experience for her. She stated, In a camp without them [campers with disabilities] I wouldnt learn as much, or um, get to do new things or even do things in a different way. Hannah expressed similar sentiment: I looked for ways to be included. I didnt just ask for help. I did things on my own and I think they [campers without disabilities] noticed it. The notion of bridging (i.e., going beyond basic supports to facilitate inclusion) supports the ndings of Warde, Tampubolon, and Savage (2005) who found that people from diverse backgrounds were sharing more of their leisure time together. They speculated that people with different social characteristics are regularly coming together in situations that might increase tolerance and understanding. Other studies have shown that inclusive leisure environments can be contexts where people can come together because they value differences (Bedini, 2002; Scholl, Smith, & Davidson, 2005). However, inclusion of individuals with disabilities in community life is not a naturally occurring phenomenon (Bedini, 2002; Devine & Lashua, 2002; Devine & Parr, 2005; Sable & Gravnik, 2005). Deliberate actions, specic training and knowledge-based programming components are necessary to facilitate inclusion.

Roles Played in Mediating Social Capital One of the tenets of social capital is that it is always found as some component of a social structure (i.e., neighborhoods) and is viewed as a characteristic of that structure (Hemingway, 1999). Social capital serves as the structure to facilitate actions of individuals. When present it serves as an asset for the individual. Certain forms of action are a central part of the roles people play within a structure where social capital is present. The role of others (e.g., camp counselors) was an important subtheme related to creating the social structure that is conducive to reciprocity. Another subtheme evident in mediating roles in social capital was perceived benets of inclusive engagement especially related to social acceptance. According to Putnam (2000), roles people play give way to the norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness that are essential for social capital. Given the roles played by individuals, certain actions are associated with the obligations of that role in mediating social capital. Irene felt it was everyones role to work together to create the most inclusive environment possible, not just the responsibility of the camper with the disability to make changes or adjustments to participate in activities. She expressed a strong sense of reciprocity, If they [campers with disabilities] are trying as hard as they can to do something, then I should be willing to make some changes to make sure they can do it. Hannah stated that she should play an active role in being included here. I mean Im not going to just sit back and not have a say in how things go, Im going to take responsibility, participate in the process, and be exible. When asked to explain what she meant by participating in the process, Hannah offered a clear sense of her role in being included and building bonds with her peers, camp is as much about what I have to offer as it is about having things accessible for me. She saw her role as an active participant in the inclusion process and was invested in creating leisure experiences. Coleman (1988) referred to this type of social capital as obligation and expectations. There is an existence of incentives to invest in social relationships because others in the exchange will reciprocate. Overwhelmingly, campers expressed their feelings that the counselors had an important role in creating bonds between campers. Most felt the counselors should take the lead in modeling appropriate behaviors and attitudes in inclusive contexts. In addition, the campers predominantly felt it was the role of the counselors to make all campers feel comfortable in the inclusive environment. Essentially, the counselors acted as bridges between campers without disabilities and campers with disabilities. Tiffany described the camp counselors as


M. A. Devine and M. G. Parr

role models as to how I should act. Like sometimes when I didnt know what to do about [fellow camper with disability], Id watch [counselor] to see how she handled it. From Hannahs perspective, she felt the role of the counselor was to not huddle or hover over me, but help so I can be included. Marissa stated that the counselors should encourage me to do things and encourage the others to include me. According to Jeff, his counselor was important because he helps me talk to the other kids [without disabilities] and have fun with them. Closeness and the nature of ties among people are important to developing and sustaining social capital (Warde et al., 2005). Counselors need to encourage and facilitate the development of strong social bonds among campers. The benets of leisure and recreation are numerous. Yet, for many individuals with disabilities access to these benets may be limited. One particular feature is the importance of social acceptance. Social acceptance is characterized by an ease and enjoyment of social interaction between people, a sense of belonging to a group, and the opportunity to create relationships of equal status (Hewitt, 1991). According to McKittrick (1980), social acceptance is the tendency of people to attach positive value to others in their environment and to make contact with them (p. 18). Social acceptance has been identied as the basis for friendship development (Schleien & Heyne, 1997), social inclusion (Devine & Dattilo, 2000), and reversing negative stereotypes (Harlan-Simmons et al., 2001). Schwartz (1988) discussed the importance of the social acceptance of people with disabilities as a necessary ingredient to create a climate of inclusion or, in other words, inclusion that goes beyond simply providing physical accessibility.

This analysis had three main purposes. The rst was to understand the conditions of the inclusive camp activities relative to perceptions of resources. Resources were evident from the perspective of investments, mutual benets and being recipients of benets. Campers without disabilities perceived they invested in social capital but did not quite understand how they would benet from investments made by their peers with disabilities. Campers with disabilities identied several ways they felt they were investing in the group and were the beneciaries of others investments. An important highlight in this nding was how different each campers perception and ideas were related to reciprocity. The next intent of this study was to understand ways that the inclusive context extends or impedes the bonds or relationships between campers with and without disabilities. This nding was probably one of the most noteworthy. It highlighted the shortcomings of social capital by the ways inclusion can mask differences between the campers as well as make them more glaring. The third intent of this study was to understand the roles played in this context relative to the campers sense of relationship development. The roles people played in the camp setting were critical to relationship development and forging a sense of belonging needed in the formation of social capital. Roles people played in this setting were most important in promoting interdependence and social acceptance as supported by previous studies (e.g., Devine & Lashua, 2002; Lieberman, Arndt, & Daggett, 2007). According to Florida (2002), emerging society is marked by a greater diversity but weaker social capital. This is problematic because social capital is not only a strong predictor of perceived quality of life and personal happiness, but improves the quality of life and enhances social cooperation (Putnam, 1995). What does this analysis mean for social capital? It appears that bridging social capital, in particular, is important in producing community solidarity among groups who are not alike. One of the most important tenets of inclusive leisure contexts is the embracing of differences among people who are alike

Social Capital in an Inclusive Leisure Setting


in many ways, but different in some. Thus, the importance of this study to inclusion contexts is promoting the value of differences not only in limitations and abilities but in how each persons uniqueness contributes to building of social capital. The organized activities served as bridging social capital possibly because the staff served as intermediaries between the campers with and without disabilities. The campers looked to the staff to see how they should behave, react and respond to each other. Putnam (2000) argued that face-to-face interaction is important to sustaining social capital. This study highlighted the importance of the roles played by staff in inclusive contexts in facilitating face-toface interaction and access to desired resources (e.g., shared norms and values). Findings from previous inquiries about staff roles support the notion that equity is a hallmark of inclusion and staff should take specic steps to facilitate it in these environments. The inclusive environment is an important context in bridging social capital between people with and without disabilities. In this camp, inclusive contexts could be exclusionary as well as bond building (Glover, 2004a; Portes, 1998). When inclusive environments appear exclusionary, the role of using social capital as a bridge between people with and without disabilities is critical to minimize this gap. The lack of similar perceptions of reciprocity and equity in this camp placed the quality of this inclusive leisure experience as suspect. Interpersonal dynamics evident in the camp, specically the notion of inclusive settings being a positive pursuit, may mask or camouage social and political agendas reected in society relative to individuals with disabilities. Specically, the sentiment typically expressed by leisure professionals (e.g., Dattilo, 2002; Smith et al., 1996) is that inclusive leisure options are a valued service for all. Instead, responses to power, tolerance, and assumptions may be camouaged. For instance, the social model of disability (i.e., viewing disability as a social construct rather than a function of bodily pathology) has shifted discourse from biomedical problems to issues of politics and power (Oliver, 1990; Tregaskis, 2002). Inclusive leisure contexts are prime for promoting the social model of disability, but seem entrenched in focusing instead on the bodily pathology of disability (Devine & Sylvester, 2005). Findings from this study could point to ways that inclusive contexts may impede the sense of social capital. According to Newton (1997) social capital may be conceptualized as consequences of norms of reciprocity and trust. When members of a community have a sense of trust, common good and reciprocity of actions, social capital is high. In our analysis a sense of distrust, unease and lack of reciprocity on the part of some campers without disabilities was evident. They seemed focused on the pathology of disability and its historical mode of marginality. While social capital was manifested in several ways in the camp, how it was maintained beyond the camp is unknown. Understanding the ways social capital continued not only beyond the camp but from year-to-year with returning campers would be interesting. Thus, future inquiries should examine how social capital is sustained outside of inclusive leisure environments and across time. One limitation of this study was a lack of voice from the camp staff. Future studies could examine not only perspective of campers, but also the camp staff since they play an important role in bridging social capital. Historically, society has not expected individuals with disabilities to be able to conduct reciprocal relationships, which results in a vertical rather than horizontal pattern of reciprocity (Bedini, 2002; Higgins, 1992). Does this belief that individuals with disabilities cannot participate in reciprocal relationships still exist in society? Do individuals without disabilities still believe they have little to benet from those with disabilities? The importance of social capital in inclusive leisure contexts has just begun to be explored, but further research should examine situations where tolerance is increased and understanding is mutual.


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