Traveling Slowly: An Exploration of the Discourse of Holiday Travel

This source preferred by Janet Dickinson

Authors: Dickinson, J.E.

Start date: 3 January 2008

:Transport research focusing on people’s behaviour tends to arise from the spatial geography and logistics tradition which focuses on quantifying trips and travel characteristics but pays less attention to the social conceptions of transport and the social reality that shapes travel behaviour. Meanwhile, within tourism, while studies explore the tourist behaviour and its antecedents in some depth, this largely focuses on destinations rather than the travel component. Travel to and from destinations is rarely analysed in the same way as other holiday experiences. Thus, there are few studies in either the transport or tourism literature that address the social assumptions that underlie holiday travel behaviour. The paper focuses on the practice of slow travel where air transport is rejected in favour of more environmentally benign forms of overland transport which generally take much longer and become incorporated as part of the holiday experience. Data are drawn from interviews with ‘slow travellers’ and newspaper and on-line reports of ‘slow travel’. The analysis reported in this paper employs a constructionist perspective to explore the travel component of holidays. A discourse analysis approach is used to show how people draw on shared discourses and theories of the world in order to explain their travel practices. Discourse analysis focuses on the function and context of talk and/or text. Some discourses are more prevalent than others and analysis shows how people use these discourses to justify their travel behaviour patterns. People frame their travel practices positively and use rhetoric to undermine alternatives to create a positive self-image, a process of self-affirmation. This in turn creates a particular travel identity. Discussion focuses on the context contingent framing of arguments and the dilemmas of stake and interest.

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