Tourist Identity Expression through
Postmodern Consumption - A Focus on the
Helena Arente and Veronika Kiiski
2.1 Conceptualization behind the literature review
Tourism and culture tend to overlap and there is no clear frontier between the two.
Therefore, tourism can be considered acultural aspect of dynamic contemporary societies, where culture plays a multifaceted role: culture is simultaneously a resource, a product, an experience, and an outcome. Furthermore, many of the changes occurring in the culture of tourism have been explained in terms of postmodernism, post-fordism, flexible accumulation and consumerism, which altogether have been named a postmodern cultural paradigm.This paradigm has brought characteristic features and trends into the development of tourism, which Urry describes as: “… travel rather than tourism; individual choice; avoiding the package holiday-maker; need to be educated traveler, and a global operation that permits individual care and attention” (1990, p.96).
Contemporary tourism in the context of postmodernism is the field of this study,with a focus on the sociology of tourism demand. Although the academic research recognizes destination characteristics that demark the supply of tourism as closely linked to shaping behavioral processes, demand of tourism is often chosen to be a more attractive facet for highlighting the dynamics of tourism consumption from a sociological perspective, due to the focus on socio-cultural needssatisfaction. Thus, only the latter perspective will be in focus of the following literature review.
This chapter begins with an overview of postmodern influence on the tourism marketplace, and is followed by an analysis of the theoretical aspects – motivation, lifestyle, and identity expression - in the demarcation of the postmodern traveler. Furthermore, it should be particularly acknowledged thatthree authors, N. Wang, J. Urry, and S. Brown, were especially important for undertaking this study as their work inspired and guided our writing.
2.2 Tourism and Postmodernism
2.2.1 The Phenomenon and its Research Settings
If ‘modern’ is that which is current, up-to-date or progressive, and ‘post’ is that which lies beyond, comes after or exceeds, how is it possible, outside perhaps of thepages of science fiction, to be beyond the present, to be later than latest, to exceed the extant – to be postmodern? (Brown, 1995, p. 60)
Reviewing literature on postmodernism in relation to tourism, from the perspectives of philosophy, sociology and psychology, the following typical characteristics can be listed for the phenomena: fragmentation, globalization, symbolization, inauthenticity,pastiche, society as a spectacle, consumerism, schizophrenia (construction of multiple realities), humanities and pluralism, and crisis of representation in socio-cultural and intellectual life (Brown, 1995; Ryan, 1997; Wang, 2000). More descriptive characteristics or the ‘conditions’ have been listed by Hollinshead (1997). To name a few related to tourism: a general attenuation of feeling, a newphase of commodity fetishism, a process of cultural fragmentation, the decentering of the subject, the implosion of meaning, the collapse of cultural hierarchies, and a broad set of societal and economic shifts where features of life take on a media, consumer or multinationalist dominated hue (1997).
Addressing the research setting of postmodern tourism, Chris Ryan has argued that thecontextuality of the industry is the first principal to be studied when pursuing any further studies on understanding tourist experiences and the systems within which the latter occur (1997a). Hollinshead (2004) posted tourism studies as a domain of activity where ‘human instrument’ forms of assessment are notably in demand because of the broad range of different values which are influential on local and...