Wednesday, July 25, 2012


                 A.  Tourism, holidaymaking and travel are these days more significant social phenomena than most commentators have considered. On the face of it there could not be a more trivial subject for a book. And indeed since social scientists have had considerable difficulty explaining weightier topics, such as work or politics, it might be thought that they would have great difficulties in accounting for more trivial phenomena such as holidaymaking. However, there are interesting parallels with the study go deviance. This involves the investigation of bizarre and idiosyncratic social practices which happen to be defined as deviant in some societies but not necessarily in others. The assumption is that the investigation of deviance can repeal interesting and significant aspects of ‘normal’ societies. It could be said that a similar analysis can be applied to tourism.
                 B.Tourism is a leisure activity which presupposes its opposite, namely regulated and organized work. It is one manifestation of how work and leisure are organised as separate and regulated spheres of social practice in ‘modern’ societies. Indeed acting as a tourist is one of the defining characteristics of being’ modern’ and the popular concept of tourism is that it is organised within particular places and occurs for regularised periods of time. Tourist relationships arise from a movement of people to and their stay in, various destinations. This necessarily involves some movement that is the journey, and a period of stay in a new place or places. The journey and the stay are by definition outside the normal places of residence and work and are of a short-term and temporary nature and there is a clear intention to return’ home’ within a relatively short period of time.
                 C. A substantial proportion of the population of modern societies engages in such tourist practices; new socialised forms of provision have developed in order to cope with the mass character of the gazes of tourists, as opposed to the individual character of travel. Places are chosen to be visited and be gazed upon because there is an anticipation, especially through day dreaming and fantasy, of involving different senses from those customarily sustained through a variety of non-tourist practices, such as films, TV, literature, magazines, records and videos which construct and reinforce this day dreaming.
                 D.           Tourists send to visit features of landscapes and townscape which separate them off from everyday experience. Such aspects are viewed because they are taken to be in some sense out of the ordinary. The viewing of these tourist sights often involves different forms of social patterning, with a much  greater sensitivity to visual elements of landscape or townscape than is normally found in everyday life. People linger over these sights in a way that they would not normally do in their home environment and the vision is objectified or captured through photographs, postcards, films and so on which enable the memory to be endlessly reproduced and recaptured.
                 E. One of the earliest dissertations on the subject of tourism is Boos tin’s analysis of the ‘pseudo-event’ (1964) where he argues that contemporary Americans cannot experience ‘reality’ directly but thrive on ‘pseudo-events’. Isolated from the host environmental and the local people, the mass tourist travels in guided groups and finds pleasure inauthentic contrived attractions, gullibly enjoying the pseudo-events and disregarding the real world outside. Over time the images generated of different tourists sights come to constitute a closed self-perpetuating system of illusions which provide the tourist with the basis for selecting and evaluating potential places to visit. Such visits are made, says Borodin, within the ‘environmental bubble’ of the familiar American-style hotel which insulates the tourist from the strangeness of the host environment.
                 F.  To service the burgeoning tourist industry, an array of professionals has developed who attempt to reproduce ever-new objects for the tourists to look at. These objects or places are located in a complex and changing hierarchy. This depends upon the interplay between interests involved in the provision of such objects and, on the other hand, changing class, gender, and generational distinctions of taste within the potential population of visitors. It has been said that to be a tourist is one of the characteristics of the’ modern experience’. Not to ‘go away’ is like not possessing a car or a nice house. Travel is a marker of status in modern societies and is also thought to be necessary for good health. The role of the professional, therefore, is to cater for the needs and tastes of the tourists in accordance with their class and overall expectations.

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