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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Annals of Tourism Research, Volume 32, Issue 1, January 2005, Pages 199–216
This paper identifies four noteworthy conceptual developments in the study of the tourist experience: a turn from differentiation to de-differentiation of everyday life and touristic experiences; a shift from generalizing to pluralizing conceptualizations; a transformed focus from the toured objects to the tourist subjective negotiation of meanings; and a movement from contradictory and decisive statements to relative and complementary interpretations. Thus, it is suggested that contemporary conceptualizations of this subject correspond to the so-called “postmodernist” theorizing in the social sciences. This turn in the literature is evaluated while addressing past and future research.
This paper aims to track and evaluate noteworthy developments in the conceptualization of the tourist experience, which has been a key research issue since its early days during the 60s. Generally speaking, the academic interest regarding this issue concerns the existential dimension of tourists’ valuations of their personal experiences. Specifically, such analyses focus on tourism motivations and the meanings that participants assign to their experiences in light of everyday life in “advanced” industrialized societies. The subject is addressed in numerous academic works carried out in various areas. Thus, an attempt to provide a complete literature review is beyond the scope of this paper. Instead, the focus here is on identifying and evaluating major developments in the conceptualization of the experience. Specifically, by reviewing relevant literature across various topics, including the definition of the tourist role, typologies, authenticity, postmodern, and heritage tourism, four developments emerge: a reconsideration of the distinctiveness of tourism from of everyday life experiences; a shift from homogenizing portrayals of the tourist as a general type to pluralizing depictions that capture the multiplicity of the experience; a shifted focus from the displayed objects provided by the industry to the subjective negotiation of meanings as a determinant of the experience; and a movement from contradictory and decisive academic discourse, which conceptualizes the experience in terms of absolute truths, toward relative and complementary interpretations. The current analysis suggests that these changes in conceptual trends involve a change in the style of academic theorizing. The conceptualizations derive from various theoretical frameworks, including phenomenology (Cohen 1979; Uriely, Yonai and Simchai 2002), a neo-Durkheimian perspective (MacCannell 1973), Goffmanian role-theory (Wickens 2002), conflict and cultural criticism (Barthes 1972; Boorstin 1964; Turner and Ash 1975), and a constructivist narrative-oriented approach (Elsrud 2004), but without attempting to endorse any of them. Instead, these are characterized and evaluated hereafter according to another theoretical construct, that of the distinction between “modernist” and “postmodernist” forms or styles of academic knowledge (Bauman, 1987 and Bauman, 1992; Denzin 1991; Flax 1990; Frazer 1989; Hollinshead 2002; Ryan 2002; Uriely 1997). In line with this distinction, it is argued that while the early theories comply with the notion of modernist academic knowledge, contemporary conceptualizations of the same correspond to postmodernist modes of analysis.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
The objective of this paper was to track and analyze conceptual developments in the study of the tourist experience. In light of the ample academic works regarding this subject and mainly its spread across several subareas of tourism studies, an attempt to provide a complete literature review was precluded in this paper. Thus, without claiming to capture all of the developments in study of the tourist experience, this paper identified four significant trends in its conceptualization: from differentiation to re-differentiation of everyday life and tourism; from generalizing to pluralizing portrayals of the tourist experience; from focusing on the toured objects to the attention given to the role of subjectivity in the constitution of experiences; and from contradictory and decisive statements to relative and complementary interpretations. In light of the first three conceptual developments the tourist experience is currently depicted as an obscure and diverse phenomenon, which is mostly constituted by the individual consumer. This perspective regarding the nature of contemporary tourist experiences raises several important issues that need to be dealt with by planners, managers, and marketers. For example, the availability of various aspects of the tourist experience in the routine of everyday life seems to threaten future demands. In addition, the impact of practitioners in the industry needs to be reexamined in light of the supposedly increasing role of subjectivity. For instance, the possible constitution of various experiences within the established category of individual mass tourists (Wickens 2002) requires rethinking in terms of planning, managing, and marketing resorts that host this tourist segment. These, and other practical implications of recent conceptualizations, need to be considered as important issues. Nevertheless, the analysis carried out in this paper concerns mostly the consequences of the four conceptual developments rather than on the practice of tourism in real life. By reviewing the four trends as a whole, it is argued that while the early theories of the tourist experience complied with the so-called “modernist” form of theorizing in the social sciences, contemporary conceptualizations of the same issue correspond to modes of analysis referred to in the literature as “postmodernist” thought. In this context, the association between postmodernist theorizing and practices of deconstruction (Denzin 1991; Frazer 1989; Ryan 2002) is illustrated in the first two developments, which emphasize processes of de-differentiation. Specifically, the tendency of recent studies to de-differentiate everyday life and tourist experiences deconstructs the early definitions which emphasize distinctiveness. Practices of deconstruction are also evident in the shift from generalizing toward pluralizing depictions of the tourist experience, which involves two stages. In the first, the early conceptualizations are deconstructed by the emergence of tourist typologies. The second is manifested in recent studies that deconstruct well-established typologies by stressing the diversity of tourist experiences within each of the existing categories in these typologies. The third development presented in this study indicates how the attention of researchers was shifted from the displayed objects to the tourist subjective negotiation of meanings. This clearly illustrates the inclination of postmodernist thought to stress the role of subjectivity (Frazer 1989; Uriely et al 2002). The fourth development indicated above—from debates that existed between competing standpoints of modern tourism to the compromising nature of the discourse between different interpretations of postmodern tourism—corresponds to the nondualistic and anti-hierarchal intellectual attitude associated with postmodernist modes of analysis (Bauman 1987; Denzin 1991; Lather 1991). By utilizing the modernist/postmodernist dichotomy, this analysis acknowledges that a general cultural change referred to in the literature as postmodernity is underway, and that it affects various domains of cultural activity, including the fashion of constructing knowledge in tourism studies. Specifically, the analysis presented above suggests that the depicted developments are not detached from a contemporary trend in the social sciences addressed as “postmodernist thinking”, which is in itself a manifestation of a wider cultural change referred to as postmodernity. Nevertheless, the modernist/postmodernist dichotomy utilized in this analysis should not be grasped as a proposition regarding the extent of change or competition that contemporary conceptualizations introduce to the literature on the tourist experience. Instead, it is suggested that contemporary conceptualizations of the tourist experience introduce complementary extensions to the earlier theories rather than a contrasting new approach that invalidates them. For instance, the essentialist views of Boorstin (1964) and MacCannell (1973) are included in Cohen’s phenomenological typology of tourist experiences (1979), which is intersected with the differentiation between institutionalized and noninstitutionalized tourists (Cohen 1972) in order to create the recent subtypology that captures the diversity among backpackers (Uriely et al 2002). In this process, later conceptualizations seem to introduce additions rather than a contrasting alternative to the logic of earlier works. In this respect, the current analysis challenges the notion of postmodernist thinking as a contesting and sharp departure from earlier modernist theorizing (Bauman, 1987 and Bauman, 1992; Denzin 1991; Flax 1990; Frazer 1989). Thus, it is suggested that with regard to the specific trends in the literature the term late modernist (Giddens 1990; Wang 2000) seems to be more appropriate than postmodernist. The evaluation of the shift toward postmodernist or late modernist theorizing in terms of its promises and threats to future research is required as well. In this regard, one might appreciate the practice of deconstruction, including the de-differentiating and the pluralizing depictions of the tourist experience, for their rising sense of sensitivity to the complexity and the diversity of tourism. Indeed, early generalizations were not sensitive to issues such as gender-related or cultural diversity. With respect to the former, for instance, Elsrud (2004) argues against the lack of gender awareness in the literature although there is so far no evidence suggesting a similarity between the ways in which men and women interpret their tourist activities. Similarly, most of the generalizing conceptualizations concern the mind of the Western tourist, while ignoring other voices, whether Japanese, Singaporean, or Brazilian (Elsrud 2004; Wang 2000). Thus, pluralizing depictions of the tourist experience, which are sensitive to gender or cultural diversity, seems to be appropriate for future research. However, the inclination of earlier theories to generalize and differentiate the tourist experience from the routine of daily life is probably part of their attempt to capture the essence of the investigated phenomenon rather than their lack of awareness of its diversity. Such a modernist attempt to track the essence of a phenomenon by generalizing is particularities aims to make sense of its diversity rather than to deny it. By turning away from this fundamental attempt of scientific practice, the recent deconstructions appear to threaten the possibility of structuring future knowledge. In this respect, the recent conceptualizations comply with the notion of postmodernist thought as a destructive perspective, which fails to elaborate sufficient alternatives for structuring knowledge (Antonio 1991; Gitlin 1989). Therefore, in addition to their deconstruction in recent studies, early conceptualizations of the tourist experience need to be reconstructed in future studies. Specifically, further studies are encouraged to redefine the current distinctions between tourist and everyday life experience and to develop new typologies, which capture the logic of contemporary variations. For instance, if work and tourism are currently intertwined (Pizam et al 2000; Uriely 2001; Uriely and Reichel 2000), future studies should specify which types of work-related activities are incorporated in contemporary tourist experiences. Questions regarding the remaining similarities within institutionalized holidaymakers or backpackers need also to be addressed in light of recent studies, which stress the multiplicity of experiences that are available within each of these conventional categories of tourism (Uriely et al 2002; Wickens 2002). The postmodernist inclination toward subjectivity is another problematic aspect of recent conceptualizations. First, it is suggested that an approach that ignores the external opportunities or constraints imposed on the individual cannot provide a complete depiction of the tourist experience. Second, the focus on subjectivity could be seen as a naive perspective, which assumes that tourism is an area of life that facilitates a real freedom of choice. In contrast to this view, it is suggested that like all other social activities, tourism and leisure are also subjected to processes of class, ethnic, or gender related domination, which impose constraints on the degree of freedom associated with the tourist experience. Such a power-conflict perspective is applied by Hollinshead (2002) who criticizes postmodernist thought for ignoring the power of the industry to shape the interpretation of heritage sites in line with the historical view of specific interest groups. Third, ignoring the displayed objects provided by the industry assumes that differences in interpretations are related solely to the characteristics of the individual tourist. Nevertheless, it is also possible to assume that some objects or forms of tourism are open to a wider variety of interpretation than others. Thus, future research should not ignore the nature of the specific visited object or the particular form of tourism as a determinant of the subjective experience. For example, questions regarding whether independent excursions may be experienced in more various ways than organized tours, or if all museums are alike in terms of the variety of experiences available in their visitation, are to be empirically addressed in future studies. Moreover, future studies should focus on the nature of the relations between the objects and the subjects that constitute the tourist experience. Such an attempt is illustrated in a recent study of backpackers’ narratives, which argues for a cyclic relationship between the institutional discourse provided by the industry, the experience of the tourist, and its impact on the individual’s experience of self-change (Noy 2004). Specifically, Noy suggests that a narrative of self-change might be linked to the exceptionality of a subjective experience, which could not separated from the uniqueness of the visited destinations as constructed by the institutionalized discourse of tourism. Yet, the latter is continually reshaped through the subjective narratives of adventure and self-change that backpackers communicate to each other or would-be backpackers before, during, and after their trip. The aforementioned shift from contradictory and decisive statements to relative and complementary interpretations of the tourist experience is another matter of concern that needs to be addressed. In this context, one might grasp this development as an indication of the liberal approach and the sense of modesty on behalf of contemporary researchers. Nevertheless, it is suggested that the debates that existed between the early conceptualizations of modern tourism stimulated further studies which support or challenge one of the conflicting aforementioned theories. In contrast, the inclination of current scholars to avoid debates and to accept seemingly conflicting phenomenon under the category of postmodern tourism is congruent with the statement that “under postmodernism anything goes” (Hollinshead 2002:198). In conclusion, the shift toward postmodernist or late modernist theorizing in the literature on the tourist experience was considered in this paper as a complementary extension of earlier theories rather than as a sharp and contrasting departure from earlier modernist theorizing. However, it was also suggested that further steps in this direction might threaten the possibility of structuring future knowledge in a solid way and result in partial and inconsistent understanding of the tourist experience phenomenon. Finally, the analysis carried out in this paper focused only on changes in the style and form of theorizing the tourist experience. Other important issues, such as the need for a gender perspective or the attention that should be given to nonwestern tourists, were hardly addressed in this analysis. The need to address applied and recommended methodologies in the study of the tourist experience is another important issue, which was beyond the scope of this analysis.