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A day out in the country

Crabtree, Andy; Tolmie, Peter


Peter Tolmie


Peter Tolmie

Mark Rouncefield


It is now commonplace to make strong distinctions between tourism and visiting practices in city environments and rural environments (see LAgroup and Interarts 2005), with significantly different motivations presumed to pertain to the two kinds of activity. This being given, a whole segment of social scientific study over recent decades has taken as its interest the re-invention of the rural environment as a place not of work but of leisure (Agyeman and Neal 2006). In company with this interest, a wide variety of different theoretical perspectives have evolved. Thus one body of literature sees the push towards outdoors activities as a direct response to the ways in which modern living conditions numb sensorial experiences, leading to a need to re-engage with such experiences in some way (e.g. Le Breton 2000). This train of thought has been carried further in some quarters with the suggestion that visits to nature reserves and national parks are about attempts fill a void in people’s spiritual lives by seeking less formalized methods of spiritual engagement (e.g. Allcock 1988; Cohen 1998). Others, however, question whether this is really about spirituality or more about taking pleasure in a direct sensorial experience of place (e.g. Sharpley and Jepson 2010). A different strand of interest is dedicated not to the benefit of such activities for individuals so much as their potential benefit to rural communities, leading to a variety of discussions regarding the relative merits of responsible engagement with the natural world, commonly referred to as ‘ecotourism’ (e.g. Neth 2008). Not all analyses of such ‘responsible’ management of the natural world in response to an upsurge in visitors with widely differing interests are so sanguine. In some cases the stress upon environmental management is seen to have negative social and economic consequences because of the constraints it places upon visitors (see Paget and Mounet 2009). However, there is a body of analysis that also seeks to find ways in which a balance between these distinct concerns can be brought about (e.g. Revermann and Petermann 2002; UNEP 2011). Other works again try to situate these kinds of activities in the broader pattern of global tourism, with discussions about differing levels of active sensory engagement and interaction with these environments and the kinds of ‘gaze’ they are subjected to (e.g. Urry 2001). In these kinds of discussions the importance of natural phenomena is the extent to which they can be marked out as different from the other things with which people might ordinarily engage (Hetherington 1997), with differing kinds of value being placed upon them according to both this and the context in which they are consumed, for instance in the company of (or absence of) others (Walter 1982). In this vein certain analyses have sought to explore how people proceed throughout different features of visiting practice in terms of ‘touristic performance’, where even just exploring places online counts as a ‘virtual’ performance, whilst the taking of family photographs can count as a ‘family performance’ where sites photographed become generic because the photograph is what is deemed important, not the site (Baerenholdt et al. 2004). Postmodern and critical theoretical treatments, meanwhile, have focused their interest upon how places visited and things seen might be considered to be ‘texts’ that are ‘re-made’ by those consuming them through the ‘lens’ of tourism (e.g. Hollinshead 2004).

Publication Date Oct 22, 2013
Deposit Date Nov 26, 2018
Book Title Ethnomethodology at play
Chapter Number 7
ISBN 9781409437550
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