chapter  5
23 Pages

From social justice to an ethics of care

Tourism’s strongest critics present a bleak analysis of a modern Western industry that, following the worst excesses of an imperialist past, continues to generate inequitable relationships. From such perspectives, Kaplan (1996: 63) argues, tourism ‘arises out of the economic disasters of other countries that make them “affordable” or subject to “development”, trading upon long-established traditions of cultural and economic hegemony, and, in turn, participating in new versions of hegemonic relations’. As Neale (1999: 227) points out, many within the tourism industry would reject such claims outright. But however beneficial tourism developments can prove, there can be no doubt about the need for some kind of protection for those peoples and environments most at risk from inappropriate forms of development. As Chapter 4 argued, despite their philosophical and political difficulties, rights and codes of practice seem to offer some such protection when they are properly enforced. For example, Simmons documents recent attempts to guarantee the intellectual property rights of those Aboriginal artists and communities whose work has been appropriated to promote the Australian tourist industry without attribution or financial recompense. ‘In Australia’, Simmons remarks, ‘the tide has turned recently in favour of moral rights legislation’, and new Copyright Amendment and Aboriginal Heritage bills will aim to ‘protect both the cultural integrity of the artist’s work as well as clan designs, symbols, and group ownership’ (1999: 428-429). Rights, though, are only one part of a more general dialogue about the importance of social justice, and it is to this wider debate we now turn. We then briefly examine ethical discourses emphasizing ‘care’ and ‘difference’ that are more or less critical of the abstract notions of justice that tend to dominate modern ethical theory.