Activity Theory and Actor-Network Theory: A Structured Framework for Unstructured Research on Tourism Distribution

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A review of the existing literature reveals that tourism distribution is most often considered as a static and linear process happening in distribution channels. It also reveals that important contextual aspects are often ignored in analyses of tourism distribution and that a clear object of analysis is often missing. In this paper, it is argued that such approaches only provide a certain and quite narrow understanding of tourism distribution. Therefore, it is suggested that a new conceptual framework for tourism distribution analysis is needed. Such an approach should take account of tourists, suppliers and intermediaries; be neither linear nor static; consider the context of tourists, suppliers and intermediaries respectively, and finally, demonstrate a clear object of analysis. This paper presents a conceptual basis for such a framework. The framework is based on concepts from Activity Theory and ideas from Actor-Network Theory. In the framework, tourism distribution is considered as a process of mediation, happening in networks of relations between complex activity systems, rather than as a linear process. Activity Theory is used to investigate the inner contradictions and issues in the activity systems, while Actor-Network Theory provides an approach to describe and make sense of the relations and contradictions between the actors/systems. In this investigation, the question of how the tourists, intermediaries and suppliers each enact tourism distribution is central. The approach sets up a specific frame for analysis of tourism distribution, but also encourages researchers to take an open approach where mess is embraced, rather than rejected. The framework should not be perceived as a direct representation of reality to be followed slavishly, but should provide ideas and tools to assist researchers and/or practitioners in terms of what to look for and how to reach an understanding of tourism distribution in a specific context. This way, the framework offers a structured way to do unstructured qualitative research on tourism distribution.
Publikationsdato6 apr. 2016
StatusUdgivet - 6 apr. 2016
BegivenhedTourism Paradoxes: Challenges to scholarship and practice - Chiang Mai, Thailand
Varighed: 5 apr. 20168 apr. 2016


KonferenceTourism Paradoxes: Challenges to scholarship and practice
ByChiang Mai

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