|General programme, activity sheet|
||Friday 25 October, 2013 12:20 to 12:40
Give peace a punch? Political consumerism and tourism in the Holy LandSpeaker: Yael Ram, Ashkelon Academic College
Authors: Yael Ram, Rami K. Isaac, Omri Shamir, Peter M. Burns,
The current work represents the early stages of a project that aims to explore the roles and actions of different actors in the context of political tourism in the Holy Land, and to shed light on the possible influence of these actions on peace and understanding between the two sides. In pursuing this aim, the political consumerism perspective, which has been defined as “consumer choice of producers and products with the goal of changing objectionable institutional or market practices” (Micheletti, 2003, p. xiv) was adopted. Political consumerism may translate into a negative action, such as a boycott or a positive form, for example, the support and purchase of goods and services from selected companies in order to reward them for their perceived ethical behavior (Friedman, 1996).
Political tourism is a type of political consumerism that “contributes to our understanding of what enables (or impedes) social justice work across transnational borders” (Moynagh, 2008 p. 7). Political tourists choose to draw attention to a destination or a region thus aligning with the cause they are supporting (Brin, 2006). According to Belhassen and Santos (2006), there are four actors that use tourism to promote respective political agendas: governments, local communities, armed groups, and tourists. These four actors comprise the supply-demand value chain. While the first three are part of the ‘supply’ side, the tourists are representatives of the ‘demand’ side. The purpose of the present exploratory research is to identify the different actors in the context of political tourism in the Holy Land and to suggest directions and priorities for the main study.
In order to contextualize the research problem, a ‘conceptual analysis’ approach was used whereby “information is understood as evidence and evidence as information” (Furner 2004, p. 233) creating a beneficial loop between hard to define research areas and complex socio-political contexts. Additionally, Xin, Tribe and Chambers (2013) recommended considering a conceptual analysis when deconstructing a concept that is characterized by a possibility for cultural or other types of biases. Thus, a research team of Israeli and Palestinian researchers conducted a conceptual analysis based on a literature review of academic studies and non-academic marketing materials, from both sides (Israel and Palestine) in their original languages (English, Hebrew, Arabic)
Results and discussion
The literature revealed that political consumerism in the Holy Land has three sides - two sides of supply (Israeli and Palestinian) and the demand side (the tourists); this finding confirmed the validity of supply and demand as the two directions for future research. Regarding supply side issues, both sides utilize the same means for applying political tourism, namely NGOs. The agenda of these NGOs is varied. The Israeli NGO's agenda is based on moral tenets (Zionism and Judaism) while the Palestinian agenda is based on the injustices caused by the Israeli regime. As a result, the two sides focus on different tenets and provide very different tour plans. While the Israeli tours focus on ‘macro’ aspects, (historical and biblical rights) the Palestinian side offer ‘micro’ aspects (the difficulties of the everyday life including restrictions on movements within Palestine). A future direction for research could be the planning and implementation of joint tour plans that reflect both narratives, including the macro/ micro aspects mentioned above.
The second issue for future study addresses the demand side. The literature overlooked the a priori selection mechanism, namely, the place attachment concept. People choose to participate in political consumerism because their a priori agendas and tourism is not exceptional in this context. Given that tourists have dispositions, they will choose, by means of political consumerism, destinations that would fit their a priory agendas. Since the supply side is characterized, in both sides, by subjective narratives, the tourists would be exposed to partial arguments that would strengthen their place attachment dispositions, and may deepen the political conflict. This situation calls for research into place attachment and its role in political tourism.
Belhassen, Y. & Santos, C. A. (2006). An American Evangelical Pilgrimage to Israel: A Case Study on Politics and Triangulation. Journal of Travel Research, 44(4), 431-441.
Brin, E. (2006). Politically-oriented tourism in Jerusalem. Tourist Studies, 6(3), 215–243.
Friedman, M. (1996). A positive approach to organized consumer action: The "Buycott" as an alternative to the boycott, Journal of Consumer Policy, 19(4), 439-452.
Furner, J. (2004) Conceptual Analysis: A Method for Understanding Information as Evidence and Evidence as Information. Archive Science 4: 233-265
Micheletti, M. (2003). Political Virtue and Shopping, New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Moynagh, M.A. (2008) Political Tourism and its Texts. Toronto: University of Toronto Press
Xin, S., Tribe, J., & Chambers, D. (2013). Conceptual research in tourism. Annals of Tourism Research, 41(1), 66-88.
Session 5 – Culture, peace and new research agendas
Place: Room SB03