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Strand 1: Are Tourism Preferences Created by Tourism Socialisation Agents or is it Developed through Self-identity? Who truly influences our Future Tourism Preferences?

Strand 1: Are Tourism Preferences Created by Tourism Socialisation Agents or is it Developed through Self-identity? Who truly influences our Future Tourism Preferences?
Author: Bethany Brookes Leech
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Abstract: This paper aims to look to the understanding of tourism socialisation and if it truly is agents of socialisation that develop tourism preferences or in fact it is self-socialisation.

Keywords: Socialisation, Tourism Socialisation, own tourism socialisation, self-identity, mobility socialisation.


Tourism socialisation is a recent area of research which develops the view that there are agents found that affect the travel decisions made. Is it the family agent that impacts the knowledge we have about destinations or even travel itself or is it other agents? Does class define where we travel to? Or is it even our peers that affect our choices? These although agents of travel will be examined and compared to our own tourism socialisation. Is it these agents that define the traveler we become or is it self-identity that creates our preferences?

Socialisation is a vast concept that has been found to be used throughout psychology and social science research. It is used to understand society and how we develop as people. McPherson (1989) claims socialisation to be ‘a complex developmental learning process that teaches the knowledge, values and norms essential to participation in social life. It is through socialisation that we learn all types of social roles, among these are roles related to sport and leisure participation’. Socialisation offers the means to develop social roles, beliefs and even who we want to be in society. Within socialisation there is a theory of agents that develop each area above. These are deemed primary and secondary agents of socialisation. Primary socialisation can be the family dynamic or even class and culture. These are the first to develop our values, norms and social roles. Secondary socialisation is peers within education and even own socialisation. These are again the four areas that will be examined and explained within socialisation.

Family as a primary agent for tourism socialisation can be key in the development of preferences within tourism. Family as an agent for tourism socialisation means there is a that the child at infancy understands what tourism is and what it means to the family itself. Mobility socialisation also plays it part here as children’s perceptions of transport and travel can impact tourism massively. It can help shape a young child’s mobility biographies. The development of preferences can stem from families as their choice of travel can lead to the individual’s choices as to taking part in similar or branching away from the family’s preferences.

Class and culture similarly as a primary agent can affect the choices made by the individual in tourism. Class and culture has been a binding area of society for generations and it can affect the accessibility to tourism. The use and understanding of class can develop the preferences of travel as it may link to the financial ability to access different areas of tourism. ‘Tourism theory tends to make a fundamental distinction between the solitary middle class traveler in search of the exotic and the gregarious, working class tourist enjoying the crowds.’ (Obrador-Pons et al, 2009). Culture is again an area which can be learnt from the family dynamic in which they develop the perception of their own cultures and others. Hugh et al (2006) explains it is an extremely important socialisation process that prepares youth for racially and ethnically diverse and conscious society.
Then to look to peers as a secondary agent of tourism socialisation. Peers have a vast impact on the development of socialisation due to them being the only other access to information and learning. Young people look to their peers to gain further understanding of what it is to travel. The need to for approval of others is important for development of self and can be seen as a means of conforming to cultural pattern (Bredemeier and Stephenson, 1970, 65).

The argument for this discussion is to then look to self-socialisation of tourism. If an individual has not had access to tourism as a young child, then who does develop their tourism socialisation? Agents of tourism socialisation can be key in development of preferences but it can be due to lack of access also. The need for self-identity within tourism can be important to an individual if they have yet to access tourism fully. Giddens (1991, 5) argues that self-identities are no longer firmly structured in advance by social hierarchies and traditional authorities such as parents. This means that self in fact could create their own tourism socialisation and preferences of travel. For example, if an individual throughout their lives has not been abroad to tourism destinations this may impact their perception of tourism completely.


So the question is who does truly influence our tourism preferences?

3 main references
Bredemeier, H.C and Stephnson, R.M (1970) The Analysis of Social Systems. Norwich: Fletcher & Son Ltd. 29-120
Giddens, A. (1991) Modernity and Self-identity: Self and Society in Late-Modernity. Cambridge: Polity Press.
McPherson, B.D. (1986) Socialization Theory and Research: Toward a ‘new wave’ of scholarly inquiry in a sport context. Human Kinetics Publishers: Ilinois.