chapter
6 Pages

Introduction

This transposition is not just a matter of meeting the tourists’ expectations – that their holiday should run smoothly, be a home away from home, and so on; it is actually a structural feature of a tourism industry which encapsulates within itself the socio-economic forms and cultural contradictions of late modernity. This is why tourism has proved such an irresistible and important topic for those interested in trying to comprehend the social complexities of contemporary life. MacCannell (1999: xv), in the introduction to the third edition of his now classic text The Tourist, states this quite clearly: ‘I wanted the book to serve as a new kind of ethnographic report on modern society, as a demonstration that ethnography could be directed away from primitive and peasant societies, that it could come home’. Tourists are a ‘metaphor of contemporary life’ (Bauman, 1997: 93). To study tourism is to study modernity itself, both because, as Urry (1997: 2-3) notes, ‘acting as a tourist is one of the defining characteristics of being “modern”’ and because tourism is directly responsible for physically exporting the patterns of development associated with modernity worldwide. Tourism, then, can be characterized as an engine and example of patterns of globalization (Duffy, 2002: 127-154; Hoogvelt, 2001; Scholte, 2000). This relationship between globalization and tourism is clear, partly because there is now nowhere, from the Azores to

Antarctica, from Penzance to Papua New Guinea, that has not felt the effects of modernity through tourism development.