Be sure to pack for a full-body experience

Tourist Studies
October 25, 2002

Tourism is a relatively new area of academic study. Twenty years ago, there were only three journals devoted specifically to tourism; now there are more than 40, most of which have appeared in the past decade.

Any new journal has to justify itself at the outset. The editors of Tourist Studies , Adrian Franklin and Mike Crang, are critical of most existing tourism journal output, lamenting what they claim is its mainly positivist, managerially oriented stance. They argue that more qualitative, humanistic and ethnographic approaches are needed.

Of the nine objectives they spell out for their journal, one is to make it the major journal for analysing the sociocultural nature of tourism. They hope to achieve this by creating a forum for debate on the nature of the tourism experience, and intend to link theory and practice by drawing on a range of disciplines, old and new.

What evidence is there to suggest that the journal is achieving its objectives? To date, it has featured articles on a number of important sociocultural themes, including representation of people and place, tourism-community relationships, "othering" and attitudes to animals. Significant theoretical contributions have been made by Cara Aitchison in relation to gender and culture, Tim Edensor on tourism and performance, Dean MacCannell, who critiques John Urry's "tourist gaze", and David Crouch et al , who consider the tourist encounter with time, space and place.

Alternative research approaches are evident in ethnographic studies by Kirsty Sherlock of host-guest relationships in Queensland and by Tom Mordue of the residents of "Heartbeat" country. Rejection of the positivist paradigm can also be seen in Charles O'Hara's study involving qualitative interviews with tourists in Nunavut, and in Kevin Markwell's reflexive "researcher-as-tour-leader" approach in Borneo.

To survive, a new journal has to be different. Three articles in particular suggest that this journal can provide new perspectives. Arun Saldanha's article links rave tourism with drug culture and the sociology of music and builds on Urry's tourist gaze to develop the notion of a full-body experience of tourism. The submission from Alan Beardsworth and Alan Bryman examines the status of captive wild animals as tourist attractions. They conclude that Disney theme parks have influenced the future role of zoos to the extent that "Disneyisation" has led to presentation of the animal and its context becoming more of an attraction than the animal itself.

Irmgard Bauer's article reverses the usual tourism-environment relationship and considers the impact of the environment on tourists' health and the related need for risk assessment and health education.

Tourist Studies also differs from other journals by presenting in-depth interviews with major tourism writers. Urry and Barbara Kirschenblatt-Gimblett were featured in the first volume. For those interested in the origins of their ideas, these interviews make fascinating reading, although gaining the involvement of such "heavyweights" appears somewhat less impressive when the cover of the journal indicates that they are both on the editorial board. Nevertheless, this approach, in which potentially difficult concepts are clearly linked to their originators, is likely to make these authors more accessible to students.

When considering the likely success or failure of this new journal, it is necessary to take into account the stiff competition it faces. Four journals, three well established - Annals of Tourism Research, Tourism Management and Tourism Recreation Research - and the relatively new Tourism Analysis , cover the same territory, and one very new one, Tourism, Culture and Communication , focuses on precisely the same sociocultural themes.

If this journal is to survive, some important questions will need to be answered: will librarians purchase it, knowing, in these times of financial constraint, that they will almost certainly have to get rid of something else? And how many of its early articles will be cited in five years' time?

Perhaps the ultimate question in deciding its future will be how well it measures up to other journals when potential contributors are contemplating the next research assessment exercise.

Peter Mason is head of tourism and leisure, University of Luton.

Tourist Studies

Editor - Adrian Franklin and Mike Crang
ISBN - ISSN 1468 7976
Publisher - Sage
Price - Institutions £185.00, Individuals £36.00
Pages - (three times a year)

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