Palma, from 23 to 25 October 2013
Celebrating and Enhancing the Tourism
Knowledge-based Platform: A Tribute to Jafar Jafari


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General programme, activity sheet

Thursday 24 October, 2013 12:30 to 12:50 Oral Communication
The View from 2013: Three Conceptualizations of the Relationship between Tourism and Social Life
Speaker: Kellee Caton, Thompson Rivers University

Authors: Kellee Caton


The ringing of the 40th anniversary bells for the Annals of Tourism Research, the flagship journal for the study of tourism from a social science perspective, offers a prime moment for looking backwards to consider the distance our field has traversed in developing an understanding of tourism as a sociocultural phenomenon--or in the famous phrase of Annals’ founding editor Jafar Jafari, in advancing the field’s “knowledge-based platform.” Taking just such a reflective view, this paper traces three broad conceptualizations of the relationship between tourism and social life that have arisen over the last four decades in tourism studies. The first conceptualization is that of tourism as a context through which the dynamics of social life are expressed. In this sense, tourism is like a reflecting pool; by gazing into it, we can learn much about the contemporary human condition, with individual agents seeking to construct meaning and identity in a world outfitted with particular material and ideological structures that constrain and enable different outcomes. Tourism can serve as a vivid illustrative context through which we can identify and analyze these dynamics. The second conceptualization is of tourism not only as a context through which social dynamics are expressed but as a metaphor for the specific form that the contemporary condition has taken. In this view, we are all “tourists” moving through a liquid and hyperreal world, in which the more solid structures of traditional life have been eradicated, leaving us always in motion, unable to find secure footing. The metaphor of being tourists can help us to understand the state of the unstable world we experience around us. The third conceptualization is of tourism as a coping mechanism for dealing with social life in the contemporary world. In this view, tourism can serve as a tool, which can help us as we seek to navigate the challenges of identity, community, and economy under present conditions. We can turn it back on itself and use it intentionally to cope with the very conditions that it simultaneously serves as an expression of or as a metaphor for. By identifying and exploring these three conceptual positions that have been taken in approaching the relationship between tourism and social life, it is hoped that we can gain a stronger sense of how far we have come as a field in understanding tourism as a sociocultural phenomenon and that such a reflective practice can serve us well as we continue to seek to articulate the legitimacy and value of tourism studies as a social science field.
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Submited paper (28 KB)

Session 2 – Ontologies, epistemologies and disciplinarity (2)
Place: Main Room

Other activities in Session 2 – Ontologies, epistemologies and disciplinarity (2)
12:50 h. to 13:10 h.Oral Communication

A tourism fieldworker in a digital media world

Speaker: Can-Seng Ooi, Copenhagen Business School
13:10 h. to 13:30 h.Oral Communication

The Tourist as the Paradigmatic Post-Political Figure

Speaker: Richard Ek, Lund University - Campus Helsingborg