Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

An Investigation of Hiker Diversity and Inclusivity on the Appalachian Trail
by Williams, Greg, M.A., Prescott College, 2014, 327; 1557905
Abstract (Summary)

Beginning with two central questions, this study investigated 1) "What are female and racial/ethnic percentages among Appalachian Trail (A.T.) hikers?", and 2) "Why are female and racial/ethnic groups less represented than are others?" Demographic percentages of A.T. hikers reveal more than two-thirds are male, and greater than 90% are Caucasian. This prompted supplementary questions aimed at increasing A.T. hiker diversity. This qualitative study deemed an ecophenomenological approach appropriate, and Creswell's Data Analysis Spiral permitted a thorough process. Data collection methods included 26 mostly open-ended, semi-structured interviews of non-hiker Latinas and hikers of African, Asian, Caucasian, and Latino American descent, males, females, and one self-described lesbian, all ranging from ages 20 to 68. Following the transcription process, qualitative analysis with ATLAS.ti software ensued. Theories related to race, ethnicity, and recreation; family-based hypotheses; marginality; and constraints. Findings that explain the common hiking constraints include transportation access, predispositions to certain wilderness recreational activities, lack of awareness, sociocultural and socioeconomic factors, ethnic value sets, and real or perceived racism or discrimination. The research participants' suggestions are specific; generally, the findings suggest that outreach efforts (e.g., live marketing; Internet and social media; television, videos and movies; retail; and print) need to focus independently upon each demographic subpopulation. The importance of appealing to children was an emergent theme among each group. The study implies that besides bringing wilderness recreation to underrepresented groups, such information could serve natural resource management agencies and outfitter retail businesses.

Keywords: A.T. hiker diversity, wilderness recreation, natural resource management agencies, A.T. hiking constraints, ecophenomenological approach

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Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Stuckey, James
Commitee: Powers, Deborah, Redick, Kip
School: Prescott College
Department: Adventure Education
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: MAI 53/01M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Social research, Public policy, Recreation
Keywords: Appalachian trail hiker diversity, Appalachian trail hiking constraints, Ecophenomenological approach, Natural resource management agencies, Wilderness recreation
Publication Number: 1557905
ISBN: 9781303963797
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