Sport for integration : inter-ethnic interaction of immigrants in informal sport
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The variation of sport contexts creates different sport experiences and outcomes for participants. Self-ruled and less-structured informal sport provides a context where intergroup contacts are similar to the ethnic relationships that typically occur in society. Thus, this dissertation explored the interaction experiences of immigrants in informal sport and what contributed to the interaction among participants with the contact theory as a heuristic guideline; it also explored how sport participation and interactions in informal sports impact immigrants’ social relationships and integration in the new country. Participant observation and semi-structured face-to-face interviews were used to collect data from informal volleyball players in a municipal recreation center and informal basketball players in a corporate campus. The results proposed a conceptual model that contained two pathways for immigrants’ socialization. In Pathway 1, immigrants socialized in informal sport settings through adapting to the unwritten rules of the sport group and built sport acquaintance relationships with other participants. Several moderators were identified that impact the likelihood that intergroup contact would happen and affect the strength of the contact effects on relationship building. In Pathway 2, off-court social activities in multiple behavioral settings contributed to immigrants’ integration because they successfully extended the acquaintance relationships to personal friendships. In the socializing opportunities in different settings, the participants exhibited various roles they play in their daily lives, which expanded their understandings of one another. The results contributed to social relationship building and sport for integration in informal sport. The implications generated critical discussions regarding the complementary effects of organized sport and informal sport.