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Group 9 Sociology in tourism wiki article

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    By: Rohan, Lukas, Toby, Adam


    Tourism Sociology


    The study of Sociology was developed not long ago. It is considered to be the youngest and the newest of social sciences. It was developed by August Comte. The word Sociology was created in 1839 after August’s Belgian scholar, Adolphe Quetelet started to make statistical studies of society and wanted to call it Endeavour Social Physics. On the other hand August rejected the name and decided to call it 'Sociology'. The origins of this word comes from both, a Latin word 'socius' and the Greek word 'Logus', so in other words what sociology simply means is science of society.

    In a way or another what society represents is men or human. As human beings it is in our nature to be interconnected with each other, with all the habits, cultures, societies and communities, with time these interconnections have grown in so many different ways. Sociology has helped us to understand these interconnections that are between each and every one. This study is very large the reason is that it is the science of society in general, and it contains bits and pieces of almost everything such as history, economics, political science, anthropology, tourism and many more.

    Even though tourism is a very important topic in sociology, it has not received that much attention from man sociologists, meanwhile it has everything to do with sociology, during travelling all what the tourists do is interact with each other and the people of the hosting community. Tourism is the ideal subject for everybody to understand how people from all around the world from different parts of the world, religion or ethnicity would interact with one another, where that would be something they would not do from their day to day lives. Tourism sociology is a much underestimated part of sociology and it is essential that it starts receiving the respect it deserves from the branches. The reason why this branch of sociology is low rated, is because it is fairly new, even though sociology in general has not been around that long enough either. Tourism is one of the biggest and fast growing industries in the world (Holden, 2006).


    Structuralism theory in tourism


    Sociology basically started as a study to promote the order in society against the prevalent chaos (French revolution, Industrial revolution etc.)

    From its positive approach (Comte 1798-1857 cited in Holden, 2006) to more rational approach including not only his positivism but conflict theory which busted the equilibrium bubble. One of the most famous promoters of this theory is Karl Marx.

    The concept of structuralism consists of two main theories known as Functionalism and Conflict theory. Main point of structuralism is to analyse the structures of society as well as see how they fit together and how they affect our behaviour. (Sharpley, 1999 cited in Holden 2006)

    Functionalism defines the role of various individuals in the society depending on their function. For instance various positions in the society could be interdependent as per the specific functions they perform. (Emile Durkheim, 1858-1917 cited in Holden, 2006) This is a positive way of looking at dynamics of a society and how different functions can support each other. Functionalism lays stress on the social factors in the society which can be considered a part of the positive outlook of the theory. Functionalists lay emphasis on including social sciences as part of the society.

    Conflict theory lays emphasis on the structures within the society but does not accept functionalists view on an order in the various sections of the society. As Giddens (2001: 17 cited in Holden, 2006) has criticized functionalists view point that it overemphasis factors that lead to social bonding in place of highlighting those that are responsible for division and conflict within the society. This would mean functionalists focus on stability and order thereby reducing the focus on inequalities in society ignoring the factors such as gender bias, racial conflict and various classes in the society.

    As per Sharpley (1994 cited in Holden, 2006) the dominant group in a society imposes their value over the weaker groups so as to dominate their own position in the society.
    Thus, conflict theory intends to study such rifts and struggle points between the haves and have nots within the society so that the relationships can be controlled and society can be improved.

    Karl Marx seems to be having key influence on modern sociology and society (Slattery, 1991 cited in Holden, 2006). Karl has highlighted differences in the society as a result of differences in class and power corridors. This results in a constant struggle between the privileged class and the underprivileged.

    The tourism system may also be perceived to follow conflict theory as it consist of various power attempts to capture the influence within a society. This kind of struggle often results in local issues such as denial of resources to the local population, for instance non availability of agricultural land to the farmers at the expense of golf courses for tourists. 


    Phenomenology in tourism


    The word phenomenology is derived from the Greek word phaenesthai, which can be translated to ‘to appear’ (Moustakas, 1994 cited in Dowling, 2005).Edmund Hasserl (1858-1938) is most commonly related to the foundation of the phenomenological theory, within sociology (Slattery, 1991 cited in Holden, 2006). According to Slattery (1991, cited in Holden, 2006), Hasserl sought to show that a relation exist between individuals, and their perceptions and behaviour, and the knowledge in sociology, as an academic field. Researches within the phenomenological theory are mostly small scale (Slattery, 1991 cited in Holden, 2006), as phenomenology is an alternative theory in understanding tourism, unlike theories within structuralism, which seek to understand the motives for actions in the whole community (Haralambos and Holborn, 1990 cited in Holden, 2006).

    In the phenomenological theory the aim is to understand how an individual perceives and behaves in the world, rather than how social norms affect the actions on individuals (Harvey, MacDonald and Hill, 2000 cited in Holden, 2006). Phenomenology differs from positivism, as it is believed that individuals control their own lives and decisions (Holden, 2006). Individuals are more influenced by their own thoughts, rather than by society and hence, do not act as a whole, but individually (Holden, 2006). Alfred Schutz (1889-1959 cited in Holden, 2006), who influenced this theory greatly, sees people as creators of a society, not as actors within a pre-existing society, hence, individual give meaning to their actions, tourism for example. In order to understand the meaning an action has to the individual, the aim is to place oneself into the situation of the consumer, in tourism, and try to enter the head of the tourist (Holden, 2006). Since it is not possible to enter another person’s head, one must rely on intuition and enactment as a means of understanding the reasoning behind the action, by the individual (Haralambos et al., 1990 cited in Holden, 2006). Within the phenomenological theory it is thus important to seek for the definition and individual gives to an activity, for example tourism, in order to find out the meaning of the activity to the person. In tourism, the social norms that control participation within the tourism activity are less important, than the individual’s opinion and feelings towards an activity (Holden, 2006).

    Through phenomenology criticism towards other theories, within sociology, have emerged, as other theories focus on the whole society, leaving individuals unnoticed (Holden, 2006), as in the structuralism theories individuals are seen as controlled by social norms, instead of their own thoughts and feelings. However, phenomenology has experienced criticism, due to subjective interpretations of individual’s thoughts and thus, actions. Furthermore, are researches, concerning phenomenology, small in scale and thus, may not be applicable to a whole society. In addition to the arguments, some might argue that phenomenology lacks a scientific approach of the issue. Holden argues that neither structuralism, nor phenomenology, give an answer to the main issue of understanding tourism from sociological point of view. It remains philosophical.



    Anomie is a sociology theory coined by the French sociologist Emile Durkheim which describes the breakdown in the bonds between the community and individuals due to a lack of moral guidance (Gerber, John J. Macionis, Linda M. (2010) and clean standards and rules (Mcleish 1993 cited in Holden 2006). He believed that this condition was usually as a result of social upheaval (book) and was more likely to happen in societies “held together by organic solidarity” (Giddens 2001 cited in Holden 2004), in addition he held that anomie was a major factor in modern societies and contributed to suicide (Holden 2006). An easily put example of anomie is the use of cell phones within our society, they are a new invention and social norms have not caught up with them yet. However, it is important to look at Anomie in the context of tourism.

    The first person to look at anomie in a major empirical study was Dann in 1977 who emphasized escapism and searching for social status as a major factor for tourists, he theorised through the socio geographic terminology of push and pull that the key motives for travelling was due to anomie and something called ego enhancement. The motive resulting from anomie had emphasis placed on social interaction “with family or friends” as well as searching for meaning. Dann also looked at another concept which is called ego enhancement which is based on one's need to be recognised socially as often, individuals will use a vacation as an opportunity to act out a new role due to being unable to have a desired status back home. Ego enhancement chances are supposed to increase with the difference of wealth between visitor and host nations (Holden 2006).

    Another theory to look at is the blasétheory, developed by George Simmel while looking at the effect of urbanisation on society; he believed that formal ties were replacing traditional affective ties, a key component being money (Lechte 1995, cited in Holden 2006). However, he believed that the main point was that the urban area create a large volume of sensory stimulations which can be overwhelming, thus, people living in urban areas must create a sense of blasé which is insensitivity and perseveres (book) in order to deal with such problems. In terms of tourism, it is suggested that tourism is taken as a root to escape and deal with such issues, but also as a potential reaction to overstimulation. (Boorstin 1961 cited in Holden 2006)



    1.      Mondal, Puja, “Essay on Sociology: The Meaning of Sociology” Your Article Library

    2.      Dowling, M. (2007) International Journal of Nursing Studies: From Husserl to van Manen. A review of different phenomenological approaches., Volume 44, Issue 1, pp. 131-142

    Ireland, Galway: National University of Ireland

    Retrieved 2015-10-22 at 14:46, from:

    3.      Holden, A. (2006) Tourism Studies and the Social Sciences, Oxon: Roudledge

    4.      Gerber, John J. Macionis, Linda M. (2010). Sociology,Toronto: Pearson Canada. p. 97

    10.  Three Founding Sociological Theories, Dan Davis: Retrieved 2015-10-22 at 16:15, From:

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