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Specialized Spaces1

Touristic Communication in
the Age of Hyper-Space-Biased Media

Andr Jansson

Newmediatechnologiescreatenewpreconditionsfortouristic
practisesandexperiences.Throughouttheprocessofajourney,
from the dreams and plans of a trip to the reexperiencing of
old travel memories, technologies for information gathering,
storing, dissemination, and representation are involved.
Mediatization alters perceptions of place, distance, sociality,
authenticity,andotherpreunderstandingsthatframetourism.
Until today, however, there are not many studies of how
differentformsoftouristiccommunicationareinterwoven,nor
how new media influence tourism activities and experiences
among different kinds of travelers. In this paper I will try to
delineate the intersection of tourism studies and
communication studies, and work out a framework for the
ways in which new media might be integrated in touristic

ThispaperisareworkedversionofatalkentitledTurismenstexturer
(TexturesofTourism)givenattheinterdisciplinaryresearchseminar
Fantastiskesteder(FantasticPlaces),AarhusUniversity,April282005.
AndrJansson(PhD)isanAssociateProfessorintheSchoolofArts
andCommunication,MalmUniversity,Sweden.
Email:andre.jansson@k3.mah.se
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communication. At the basis of this exploration lies the


assumption that the efficiency and lightness of digital, hyper
space biased media tend to problematize the very foundation
of tourism the division between being at home and going
away; between the ordinary and the extraordinary. I will
introduce the concepts of encapsulation/decapsulation as a
framework for understanding how the liminal (encapsulated)
experience of tourism is always haunted by its double
(decapsulation).Then,attheendofthispaperIwilltentatively,
recapitulating a number of previous studies, propose four
ritual attitudes, through which an encapsulated sense of
tourism might be sustained also in the age of hyperspace
biasedmedia.

Tourism and the Space-Communication Nexus

InapaperaboutSocialnetworks,travelandtalkJohnUrry(2003)
arguesthatthesocialsciencesinrecentyearshaveexperienced
a mobility turn. While having for a long time failed to
examine how social life presupposes both the actual and the
imagined movement of peoples from place to place, person to
person, event to event (ibid: 156), the dichotomy between
transport research and social research is now about to be
transcended putting the social into travel and connecting
different forms of transport with the complex patterns now
takenbymuchsocialexperienceconductedatadistance(ibid:
157).Anoutcomeofthisturn,Urrycontends,isthatresearchers
are successively gaining a deeper understanding of the social
reasons for traveling, the new forms of meetingness that a
mobile and networked society fosters. Meetingness is not
threatened by network society, but essential to it.
Communication atadistance produces new needs for faceto

face interaction (and the unique socioemotional qualities that


follow with it), which in turn creates new needs for mobility.
And since new media enable people to communicate while
being on the move, bringing professional and private
relationships with them while traveling, the potential for co
ordinating even more meetings and events continues to grow.
The mobility turn is thus shedding light on a spiral process
which is typical for a networked society a process that
involvescertainsystemictippingpointsatwhichtheneedfor
certaincommunicationresources,beitanewkindofcellphone
or a new airport, is felt as obligatory. Such tippingpoints
revolutionizematerialinfrastructures(newtelephonenetworks,
etc), behavioural patterns, as well as spatial arrangements
(adaptingprivateandpublicspacestonewmaterialandsocial
preconditions). We might call these meaningful symbolic
materialstructuresthetexturesoftravel(cfJansson,2006).
Urrysinvestigationofthesocialitymobilitycomplex setsan
agenda for the study of network society, which is sensitive to
both material complexities and the situatedness of social
interaction. What is not as thoroughly discussed in Urrys
paper,however,arethewaysinwhichnewmediatechnologies
(with reference to symbolic communication) saturate the very
experience of traveling. This is surprising, since new means of
communication, blurring the lines between physical and
imaginative mobility, are important to the mobility turn itself.
WhileUrrystressesthefactthatmanyjourneysmustbecarried
out in order to sustain social relations that mediated
communication is not capable of, he underestimates the fact
that mobile media technologies, which people can bring along
on their trips (cameras, cell phones, laptops, etc), tend to alter
theveryexperienceoftraveling.Themediasaturationofwork
related travel is normally thought of as a positive marker of

global connectivity and efficiency. But its significance is more


ambiguouswithintherealmofvacationingandtourism.
While popular media representations and reproductions
(advertising, travel magazines, TV programmes, etc) might
undermine the historical authenticity of many tourist
destinations (e.g. Boorstin, 1961; Eco, 1986; Bennetta, 1994),
private media technologies might problematize the sense of
beingthere.Theyarepartofthededifferentiationoftourism
andeverydaylife(seeUrry,1995:148;Bauman,1996:55).Home
and work are sometimes felt to be too close at hand, and by
extension, the almost obligatory integration of mediation and
tourism may foster increased desires for demediated
experiences(Strain2003:35)therealthing,realadventures
and mediafree holidays. There is a clear logic to this. As
Steven Connor (1989: 56) argues, the accentuated presence of
simulationsandmediatedconnectivityin(post)modernculture
fosters a cult of immediate experience, of raw, tense reality
(seealsoCampbell,2005).Similarly,inhisclassicalworkabout
The Tourist, Dean MacCannell (1976/1999: 48) asserts (in
opposition to Benjamins view of artistic authenticity) that a
certain cultural production (such as a tourist site/sight)
becomesauthenticonlyafterthefirstcopyisproduced(see
alsoCouldry,2005).
This development asks for a bringing together of not only
socialresearchandtransportresearch,butalsotourismstudies
and media studies. Several recent books and articles have
articulatedthisneed(e.g.Jansson,2002;Strain,2003;Crouchet
al, 2005), but there is still much work to be done, especially
when it comes to the formulation of an analytical framework.
The mediatization of tourism (together with several other
spatial issues raised due to late modern media developments)
also motivates the integration of communication theory and
geography the establishment of communication geography (or

thegeographyofcommunication)asasubfieldwithincultural
studies (cf. Jansson and Falkheimer, 2006). Such a theoretical
basis provides the right tools for studying the intersections of
spatialandcommunicativepracticeswithintourismaswellas
peopleseffortstoescapespatialambiguities.Inlinewiththis,I
will now introduce two concepts that will help us understand
tourismintermsofaspacecommunicationnexus.

Texture
Intourism,asinmanyotherareasofsociety,spacesandplaces
areconstitutedinaccordancewiththecommunicationtheyare
supposed to enable. At airports there are certain areas
constructedandassignedforwirelessinternetuse.Manytourist
sites are designed in order to provide good photo
opportunities,thatis,bringingforwardtheirvisualuniqueness
by means of particular viewpoints, etc. At the same time, the
useofdifferentmeansofcommunicationtakesshapeinrelation
to the character of particular spaces. This can be studied in
terms of Erving Goffmans (1959; 1967) theories of ritual
behaviour and social regions. While in an airplane cabin there
are regulations for the use of electronic equipment, other
settings and situations impose informal, and often negotiable,
conventions for the use of for example cameras. Often,
however, it is difficult to make out the extent to which spatial
arrangements determine communication, and vice versa. As
Urry(2003)notices,forexample,theremightbecertaintipping
points, when space must be adjusted according to new
demandsforefficientcommunicationsuchastheinstallation
of wireless highspeed internet at airports, or oppositely, the
establishmentofrulesforphotographyathistoricalsites,orthe
useofcellphonesinrestaurants.
What emerges through the tension field between spatial
arrangements, in terms of both material structure and social

rulesandresources,andcommunicativeandspatialpracticesis
acertaintexture(Jansson,2006).Thetermtexturederivesfrom
the Latin textere, meaning to weave, and refers both to the
thingwoven(textile)andthefeeloftheweave(texture)(Adamset
al, 2001: xiii). Texture thus helps us understand space as a
meaningful structure of both material and symbolic processes,
rather than as a mere container or context for particular
activities. Texture also moves us beyond the commonplace
understandingofcommunicationasamatterofsymbolicflows,
or messages extended in space. Through texture we can
interpret space itself in terms of a communicative density. In
contradiction to what theorists like Bill Nichols (1981) has
proposed, however, social environments can never be
understoodasatexttobereadlikeanyothertext(ibid:26).
While increasingly intertwined with representational spaces,
the communicativity of social space always involves material
and multisensory qualities, as well as visual/semiotic codes
(seeMetz,1977).
Toanalyzetextureisthustoanalyzethecommunicativefabric
of space a fabric that might simultaneously bind a certain
regiontogether,andopenituptowardsthesurroundingworld,
connecting it to other regions. Texture is both dynamic and
multilayered, established through the interplay between
regularitiesandimprovisationswhatCliffordGeertz(1973)in
his essay on Thick Description has likened to a manuscript
foreign, faded, full of ellipses, incoherencies, suspicious
emendations,andtendentiouscommentaries,butwrittennotin
conventionalizedgraphsofsoundbutintransientexamplesof
shaped behaviour (ibid: 10). Communicative practices might
either extend the relevance of pregiven manuscripts and
textures, obeying ritual forms of touristic practice, or
undermining the very same forms. Accordingly, new media
mightbeusedeitherforintensifyingthetouristicexperienceof

a place, or for blurring the touristic qualities of texture. This


duality corresponds to the relationship between textural
encapsulationanddecapsulation.

Encapsulation
Tourism shares many characteristics with the liminality that
characterizes ritual processes (see Turner, 1969: Ch 3). The
production of liminality occurs on behalf of the tourists
themselves, as well as on behalf of travel organizers,
advertisers, local entrepreneurs, etc. Phantasmagorical media
representations, spectacular hotels, restaurants and
entertainment areas, as well as the expressive leisure practices
(intermsofclothing,consumptionandmoreorlesshedonistic
social behaviour) of tourists work towards the same goal
weavingthemagictextureoftourism,whichshallseparatethe
tripfromtheworldofeverydayness.Withinthetouristicrealm
the rationality and social obligations of everyday life might be
cast overboard, giving way for a liminal identity with
weakened ties to the world of production and work (e.g.
AnderssonandJansson,1998;PerkinsandThorns,2001;Banim
et al, 2002). This is not to say that tourism must always be
considered as an inverted reflex of workaday routines. But its
unique qualities are always gained through certain ritesde
passage, whose expressions might vary depending on the
characterofthetripandthecharacterofeverydaylife.
Touristictexturesandexperiencesarethuscreatedthrougha
mutual interplay between structure and agency. They are also
based upon the interplay between sociomaterial material
arrangements, mediation and imagination (cf. Lefebvre,
1974/1991). Designing and marketing a beach resort like Club
Med, for instance, involves careful consideration of the target
groupsdesires;howpeoplearesupposedtomove,interactand
make their purchases, and taking measures for restricting

potential distortions locating bars, sun beds and sanitary


facilities in certain ways; using auditory installations (e.g.
music)andvisualdisplays,installingCCTVsystems,etc.From
thedesignofcruiseships(Weaver,2005)tothereformulation
of Romanian excommunist environments (Light, 2001), space
entrepreneurstrytogoverntheinterpretationandformationof
texture by means of symbolic mediation and sociomaterial
arrangements(seealsoBritton,1991).Andinordernottobreak
thespell,peopleareobligedtoactinanappropriatemanner
to play the right game. I will call this mutual process
encapsulation, stressing the touristic desire for spatial
separatedness and liminality. My view corresponds to
MacCannells (1976/1999) argument that the shared
understanding of tourist attractions (as a modern type) rests
on an elaborate set of institutional mechanisms, a twofold
process of sight sacralization that is met with a corresponding
ritualattitudeonthepartoftourists(ibid:42,italicsinoriginal).
Theidealtypeofencapsulation,perhaps,istheming,inwhich
the design of particular settings, notably tourist sites (Urry,
1990/2002: Ch 7) and facilities for consumption and
entertainment (Ritzer, 1999), revolves around a particular
symbolic denominator (a brand, a personality, a historical
event,etc)(seealsoGottdiener,1997/2001).Athemedsiteisone
thataimsnotonlyforsemioticenclosure,butalsoforcontrolled
formsofvisualconsumptionandspatialpraxis.Forthatsake,it
is marked by coherent stylistic ensembles, a calculated
infrastructure(typicallyinvolvingsurveillancesystems),andan
overall strategy for maintaining spatial and imaginary
boundaries.Aperfectillustrationwouldbemoderncruiseships,
whose interior designs, food menus, etc, are often assembling
an overarching theme, such as Britishness, or Italianness.
As Adam Weaver (2005: 348) puts it, it is then possible to
cruisewithinaMcDonaldizedtouristbubbleindependentof

theculturalsurroundingsoftheportsofcalls.Thecruiseship,
packedwithsurveillanceandcommunicationtechnologies,isa
mobilenonplacecapsule(cfAug,1992/1995).
However, there is always a risk that magic is broken, that
encapsulationisreplacedbydecapsulation.Suchtransformations
can occur in a number of different ways, more or less
predictable.Insomecasestheyarebasedonthesubversionof
spatial representations. For example, documentary
photographers or activists might try to promote an alternative
viewofatouristdestination(cfCrouchandGrassick,2005).In
other cases, decapsulation might occur through sociomaterial
events,suchasbadweather,adisturbinggroupoftourists,or,
more dramatically, an earthquake devastating vast areas of
tourist paradise. In the end, decapsulation is most often
producedthroughtheinterplaybetweenmaterialandsymbolic
processes. Sometimes a particular space does not meet the
media produced expectations and desires of the tourist (e.g.
Pokrofsky, 1998; Couldry, 2005). Some of us might also
remember how the mayor of an Atlantic summer resort in
Steven Spielbergs film Jaws refused to announce the presence
ofadangerousshark,inordernottojeopardizethesuccessof
the tourist season a strategy that led to devastating
consequences.Thefearofdecapsulationisonethathauntslocal
politicians, imagemakers and travel organizers, as well as
tourists.Aswewillseelateron,theefficiencyandlightnessof
newmediatechnologiesproducespatialambiguitiesthatmight
bothsustainandthreatentheprocessofencapsulation.

New Media and the Threat of Decapsulation

Tourism has from its very outset been based upon a blurred
distinction between spatial and communicative practice. The

modernformsoforganizedmobility,whichemergedfromthe
mid 19th century along with the expansion of railroads and
steam liners, were intrinsically interwoven with the collection,
interpretationandrepresentationofforeignplacesandpeoples.
As Ellen Strain (2003) argues in her book Public Spaces, Private
Journeys which is one of the best accounts of the space
communicationnexussofartherecordingandrepresentation
offoreignplacesdidnotonlyhavethefunctionoftellingstories
of the Other, but also to enhance the touristic desire for the
real and the genuine, which was emerging in manyWestern
settings,aswellastofosteradistanciatedandmobilegazethe
touristgaze(cfUrry,1990/2002).AccordingtoStrain(2003),itis
even possible to identify a classical style of tourism,
consolidated during the 1920s and 1930s, which still today
holdsitsgripovertourism.Thisstyleincludesthepurchaseof
postcards, the avoidance of places considered as overly
touristy,thephotographiccaptureofsightsandattractions,and
the desire to see a location from within and above (ibid: 23).
An additional component of the classical style, or ritual
attitude,mightbewhatColinCampbell(1987)callsimaginative
hedonism, referring to the desire for new, unique experiences
integraltomodernconsumerism.Imaginativehedonismcanbe
described as a regime of mediated phantasmagoria, which in
the case of tourism has been promoted through advertising,
travelogues,worldsfairsandguidebookseversincetheadvent
of Thomas Cooks package tour. This is the spatial
phantasmagoriaoftourism(seealsoJansson,2002).
Incontemporaryimagecultureitisalsorelevanttodescribe
tourism as an institution for communicational phantasmagoria.
Postindustrial society is marked by a continuous search for
new markets and new needs for ICT commodities. Leisure in
general, and tourism in particular, are significant discursive
frameworks for the formulation of such needs and desires

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within advertising. Cameras, telephones, GPS navigators, etc,


are marketed in popular magazines, framed by sports,
adventure holidays and extraordinary social events,
naturalizing the connections between mobility, spatial
appropriation and communication. Inasmuch as portable ICT
commodities are integrated within tourism, they contribute to
the blurring of the demarcations between spatial and
communicativepractices.

The Regime of Hyper-Space-Biased Communication


In The Bias of Communication Harold Innis (1951/1964) explores
the historical relationship between societys predominant
meansofcommunicationandprevailingpatternsofknowledge
andpower.Hisanalysesrangefromtheearliestofcivilizations
to 20th century industrial society, and revolve around the
groundbreaking distinction between timebiased and space
biased media. While the former are marked by heaviness and
durability(suchasstone),thelatterarelightandtransportable
(suchaspapyrus).Whileitisdifficulttopinpointanyobjective
distinction between a timebiased and a spacebiased medium
the conceptualization is good to think. If we borrow the
terminology of Raymond Williams (1974), the bias of
communicationprovidesaclearnotionnotonlyoftechnological
assets, but also of the broader ideologies that circumscribe and
articulatemediaasculturalforms.
So how can we think about contemporary Western/global
media culture? In the essay A Plea for Time Innis argues that
industrial society overemphasizes spatial concerns, neglecting
more enduring social values pertaining to traditions and
communionintime.Inniscontendsthatthetragedyofmodern
culture has arisen as inventions in commercialism have
destroyedasenseoftime(1951/1964:86),andthattheessence
of living in the moment and for the moment is to banish all

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individual continuity (ibid: 90). Thus Western, industrial


society is a society whose ideological superstructure sustains
ephemeral, spacebiased communication. In a similar manner,
thinkers like Joshua Meyrowitz (1985), David Harvey (1989)
and Paul Virilio (1990/2000) have analyzed the social
consequences of new media and transportation technologies,
pointingtoalteredperceptionsofpastpresentfuture,aswellas
of space and place. Manuel Castells has sketched the contours
ofaninformationtechnologicalparadigm(Castells,1996/2000:
6976) which binds emerging technological potentials, that is,
digitalmedia,toaparticularideologicalform,thatis,thecultof
networks, flows and instantaneous (trans)actions (see also
Mattelart, 1996/2000). As a result, an ephemeral geography of
communication is created beyond the realms of sociomaterial
space.
Communication must here be understood in terms of both
material and symbolic fluidity, with increasingly vague
distinctionsbetweenoneanother.Lightcommunicationwithin
thesymbolicrealm,mediation,presupposesandreinforceslight
communication within the material realm, transportation, and
viceversaaprocessthroughwhichtheregimeofspacebiased
communication is legitimized and globalized (cf. Virilio,
1990/2000: Ch 2). The lightness of media is paralleled in
lightness and flexibility in terms of clothing, belongings,
housing, and so on. Work and leisure, production and
consumption, are saturated with the ideology of mobility and
connectedness, which is essentially a matter of transcending
and/orerasingspatialboundariesbymeansofcommunication.
Then, if industrial society was a spacebiased society,
informationalization implies an extension of this bias, making
space itself a less reliable category. We may thus speak of a
regimeofhyperspacebiasedcommunication.

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Alongwiththerelativizationofspatialboundariesfollowsa
relativizationoftemporalframeworks.Theportabilityofdigital
media implies not only that communicative practices can be
performed on the move, but also that they can transcend the
distinctions between for example worktime and leisure
time.Thenormsforhowtomaintain(ornot)thesedistinctions
vary between different sociocultural settings. Generally
speaking, however, people of today experience greater
obligations to be reachable, to stay in touch, than their
predecessors did. This also implies that the encapsulation of
tourism timespace requires a reflexive ritual attitude that
assesses which forms of touristic communication might best
contribute to this liminal experience (given that such a desire
prevails). In the forthcoming sections I will provide a
preliminary account of how the regime of hyperspacebiased
communicationalterstheclassicalstyleoftourismwithinthree
broad realms: scripting, navigation and representation. My
discussion does not suggest that these realms are absolute, or
separatefromoneanotherquitetheopposite.Theyarepartof
the hermeneutic circles of representation (Jenkins, 2001), or
circuits of tourism (Ateljevic, 2000), through which spaces of
touristic expectation, experience and representation, as well as
touristictextures,areproduced.

Scripting
As stated above, the spatial phantasmagoria of tourism is
intrinsically linked to imaginative hedonism (Campbell, 1987),
throughwhichpotentialtouristsengageintherepresentational
realms of marketing, popular culture, literature, photography,
andothersourcesofsociospatialinformation(e.g.Cohen,1995;
Selwyn,1996;Ateljevic,2000;Jansson,2002;Selby,2004;Waade,
2006).Throughsuchmediationsindividualsdevelopnotonlya
referentialframeworkfortheplanningofatrip,butalsoascript

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forhowtoperformandperhapsreconfiguretheirownidentities
withinthedesiredsetting(e.g.Gregory,1999;Banimetal,2002;
Shaffer, 2004; Maoz, 2006). As Amanda Lagerkvist (2004)
argues in a study of Swedish postwar travelogues about the
USA, most travel writers initial appropriation of the foreign
environmentwasahighlyscriptedpractice(ibid:324),whose
variousviewingpositionsarticulatedaspectsofanoverarching
medial attitude. Later on, their own accounts became part of
the scripting of tourist gazes and performances. It must be
underscored, however, that tourism phantasmagoria is not
merely visual. Touristic representations normally integrate an
ensemble of sensory and emotional experiences, let alone in a
mediated, audiovisual fashion, which together create an
imagined texture. For example, Ellen Strain (2003) describes
how travel lecturers around the turn of the century 1900
combined photographic slides (and sometimes moving
pictures)withwordsdescribingthesounds,sights,andsmells
that a visitor might expect to encounter on the journey (ibid:
115).
In opposition to what several proponents of posttourism
have indicated (e.g. Hebdige, 1990; Urry, 1995; Bauman, 1996;
Campbell, 2005), then, scripting is as old as tourism itself (see
also Lagerkvist, 2006). Due to the continuous expansion of the
tourism and media sectors, however, the contents and
expressionsofscriptinghavediversified.Today,diversification
regardsnotonlytouristdestinationsandmarketsegments.Itis
also a matter of providing increasingly personalized
information,guidanceandattractionswithinmarketsegments
thatis,greateropportunitiesforcustomization.Inadiscussion
of her own backpacking experiences Shaffer (2004) proposes a
distinction between culture backpackers and leisure
backpackers, and describes how she even within the former
spectrum soon realized that, like performance roles, there

14

were guidebooks that were written for me, and there were
others that were not (ibid: 145). If one adds the growing
amount of lifestyle media integrating different forms of
expressive practices and the explosion of travel related
internetsites,wherejustaboutanybodycanfinddetailedtravel
information, take virtual tours, and read personal accounts of
places and events, one might argue that the spatial
phantasmagoria of tourism is becoming more detailed and
specialized. Tourists have greater opportunities to compose a
personal script, based on very specific sources of knowledge,
reducing the risk of cultural shock or alienation. At the same
time,however,specializedphantasmagoriaincreasestheriskof
disappointmentsanddecapsulationwhenrealityiseventually
measuredagainstitsnormativerepresentation.

Navigation
A significant aspect of the tourist experience is the need to
incorporate space in a cartographic manner either to find
oneswaytonewsitesandsights(gettingontherightbus),or
to establish routinized patterns of mobility (getting from the
hotel to the beach, on to the bar). These mobilities evolve
throughtheinterplaybetweenthesensoryappropriationofthe
surroundings, and the visual imagery (both cognitive and
phantasmagorical) of spatial representations, such as
guidebooks and maps. The need for navigation does not only
stem from the touristic desire to see extraordinary sights and
events, however, but also from the ongoing coordination of
what Urry (2003) calls meetingness. Social gatherings with
friends and fellow travellers, as well as meetings with new
acquaintances(mostoftenothertourists)arejustasmuchpart
and parcel of leisure trips, as is the tourist gaze (cf. Haldrup
andLarsen,2003).Intheclassicaltypeoftourismthemapand
theguidebookwereaccompaniedbysimpleformsofmediated

15

interaction between tourists, such as written notes slid under


the hotel room door, or left to the portiere; or, in relation to
longerdistances,posterestantemailaddresses,orprescheduled
phone calls from public telephones. Today there are many
muchmoresophisticatedmediaforprivate,navigationaluse.
AmagazineadforapersonalGPS(GlobalPositioningSystem)
navigation tool, or street pilot, figures a typical yellow New
York cab in an urban streetscape, accompanied by a written
expressioninbrokenEnglish,understoodasformulatedbythe
passengerinsidethecar,correctingthedriver,whoisaboutto
make a wrong turn. The ad shows how the tourist, while still
betrayedbyhis/heraccent,cannowbethenavigationalexpert,
whodoesnotneedanyhelpfromlocals,noteventaxidrivers,
for reaching specific locations. Street pilots may not only
containmapsandpositioningsystem,butalsolanguageguide,
travel guide, digital compass and barometer, supporting
travelers in their quest for being at the right place at the right
time. Together with a cell phone equipped with calculator,
alarm clock, chronograph, and internet connection that
provideslocalcurrencies,weatherreports,newscastsandtraffic
information, temporal and spatial coordination is partly
disembeddedfromthesocioculturalrestraintsthatoftenaffect
foreignersappropriationofnewterrains(Giddens,1984).
New media can thus eliminate some of the sociocultural
frictionoftouristicmobility.Aslocaltexturesaretranscended,
interlaced with global geographies of communication, tourists
mightexperiencefewerproblematicsituationssuchasgetting
lost,orbeingsurprisedbybadweather.Theycanbemoretime
efficient and maintain a sense of control. Simultaneously,
however,thedisembeddingoftouristicpracticesentailstherisk
of decapsulation. The benefits of new technologies may be
experienced as an extension of workrelated timespaces for
most people marked by discipline and coordination

16

threatening the adventurous and liminal character of tourism.


Navigatorsandcellphonespartlyshiftthespatialexperienceof
theindividualfromhisorhercorporealpresence,hereandnow,
to the representation of mobility itself, as well as to events
occurring in the future (cf. Hflich, 2005). Having the phone
switched on during vacation also brings along the potential
intrusion of workrelated or otherwise decapsulating, phone
calls.

Representation
Tourism studies have for a long time, especially since John
Urrys(1990/2002)pioneeringanalysesofthetouristgaze,been
marked by a visualistic stronghold. When it comes to
representationalpracticestherecordinganddisseminationof
touristicspacesandeventsthefocushasprimarilybeenupon
photography (e.g. Haldrup and Larsen, 2003; Larsen, 2006).
Indeed, photography, movies, postcards and souvenirs, are
crucialtotheclassicalstyleoftourism,workingasiconographic
or indexical signifiers of the tourists liminal experiences.
However, as indicated in several articles (e.g. Veijola and
Jokinen, 1994; May, 1996; Perkins and Thorns, 2001; Edensor,
2005),therearealsootherstoriestobetoldstoriesaboutnew
taste experiences; the sounds of foreign music and languages;
the smells of streets, train stations and ocean beaches; bodily
sensationsofheat,cold,touristdiseasesanderoticencounters.
Within the classical style of tourism such stories have been
told on the backside of postcards, occasionally in letters, and,
mostofall,uponarrivalhome.AsAteljevic(2000:377)stresses,
when tourists come back home from their trips with trinkets,
artefacts and photos [] displaying these in their living room
or making slideshows and describing their time away, they
take part of the production of multisensory touristic
phantasmagoria. Since all these media demand transportation

17

and technical administration, however, the classical style of


touristicrepresentationhasreproducedthesocial,culturaland
geographical distance between mundane and liminal spaces,
between home and away. The only medium of industrial
modernitythattosomeextentcouldsimulatecopresencewas
thetelephone.
Theregimeofhyperspacebiasedcommunication,however,
invokes three important shifts. First, the nature of visual
representation is becoming more negotiable. Digital
photography and video enable tourists to watch their
recordingsimmediatelyanddecidewhethertokeepthem,orto
delete and create new images. The enlarged memory capacity
of cameras also allows for bigger quantities of recordings
without adding any additional costs to the vacational budget.
And as images are exported to a computer they can easily be
reworked and rearranged, producing an idealised framework
for a touristic memoryscape which in turn might be
incorporatedasphantasmagoriaamongothers.
Secondly, visual representation is supplemented by a
broadened spectrum of sensory mediation. While still photos
were also silent, digital cameras for photo and video, even
mobile cameraphones, include resources for auditory/audio
visual recordings. Since cell phones are now turned into
commondevicesforeverydayinteraction,theyintroduceanew
potential (involving extra costs) for sharing multisensory
experiencesviaphonecalls,SMSandMMSpostcards.
Thirdly, the mediation of experiences can occur instantly.
ImagescanbesentbyemailorMMS;verbalaccountsbyemail,
SMS or phone calls. There will be no delay for transport or
development of photos. There are possibilities for direct
feedbackandmediatedinteraction,aswellasforthesharingof
memoriesofatripthatisnotoveryet.Inarecentmagazinead
for a portable colour printer a group of friends in touristic

18

outfitsarelocatedbytheoceanshore,withmountainsceneryin
the background, watching newly printed images of the same
scenery sharing the memory of a view that is still in their
immediate presence. This does not only mean that material,
mediatedandimaginaryspacesareincreasinglyinterwoven.It
meansthatthetemporaldistinctionsbetweenphantasmagoria,
(re)representation and memory evaporate. The sequence of
classicaltouristicritualsisdissolved.
Thesethreechangesaddtothespatialambiguityoftourism
experience.Ontheonehand,themagicofaleisuretripcanbe
reinforced through the creation of ideal ensembles of
representations, and through the immediate sharing of
extraordinary, multisensory experiences. On the other hand,
the distinction between tourism and everyday life is blurred
due to timespace compression (cf Harvey, 1989). While
touristic timespace is expanded through representational and
imaginary realms, its shield is also weakened, so that the
intensificationofencapsulatingcommunicationmightgenerate
itsownantithesis.Onemightinacertainsensedescribethisas
decapsulationthroughimplosion. As Baudrillard (1983, 1987)
argues, mediation destroys itself when increased stress is put
upon the staging of mediation itself. Similarly, tourism in
general, and touristic communication in particular, might
exhaust its own distinctiveness through the hypermediation
andhyperconsumptionofliminality.

Ritual Attitudes of Touristic Communication

So far, I have mainly discussed what new, private media


technology might do to touristic experience. I have pointed to
the ambivalent experiences that the new informational texture
might produce, involving on the one hand a potential for

19

extendedphantasmagoriaandfulfillmentofspecializeddesires
ofconsumption,whilemaintainingasenseofpredictabilityand
control, and, on the other hand, a risk of disenchantment and
decapsulation as the world of work, discipline and everyday
life breaks into the realm of liminality. But technological
potentials are never similar to the cultural forms of use that
emerge as soon as technologies are integrated in social life
(Williams,1974).Accordingly,thehypotheticalcrisisoftourism
also fosters new modes of touristic communication, expressed
both through the ways in which spatial arrangements are
sacralized, and through the ritual attitudes that evolve among
tourists.Iwillinthispaperconcentrateuponthelatteraspect
outlining four principal attitudes through which a sense of
tourism might be sustained in relation to hyperspacebiased
communication.Iwillsynthesizetheseattitudesfromempirical
studiespublishedduringthelastdecade,stressingthatnotions
of cosmopolitanism and posttourism have been strongly
exaggerated.
In a previous study (Jansson, 2002) I have argued that most
peoples appropriations of real and mediated tourist spaces
tendtofollowacertainlogic,orlifestyle,correspondingtotheir
socially embodied habitus and ethos (see also Bourdieu,
1979/1984). Through interpretations of qualitative and
quantitative data I deduced three modes of spatial
appropriation: antagonistic sharing many characteristics with
Urrys (1990/2002) objectifying tourist gaze, as well as with
Simmels(1997)notionoftheadventurer;symbioticsharingits
outlook with the ethnographic desire to become
(quasi)immersedinforeignenvironments(cfStrain,2003);and
contextual emphasizing touristic activities and events, rather
thanthespectacularorimmersivecharacteristicsofspace.This
typology does not implicate structural determinism, or stable
taste cultures (Gans, 1974), however. It points out that the

20

circuits of tourism are embedded in a broader framework of


socialstructuration,andthatcertainlifestylepatternstherefore
can be discerned. The typology also stresses that the
postmodern bricoleurs, who might distort preestablished
cultural patterns by means of eclectic, subversive lifestyles,
belong to a rather limited social group, primarily to be found
within the cultural middleclasses (see also Munt, 1994; Holt,
1998;AdlerandAdler,1999;Jansson,2001).AsThompsonand
Tambyah(1999:236)argueinanempiricallygroundedcritique
of the theory/ideology of cosmopolitanism, some tourists [in
thebourgeoisclass]maybeposttouristsmostofthetime,and
manytouristsmaybeposttouristssomeofthetime,butthese
circumstances do not equate to the historical demise of the
moderntouristicconsciousness.2
Taking into account several other studies as well, this
typology seems to be a relevant framework for understanding
the attitudes of touristic communication. The following
attitudes must not be regarded as conclusive tourist
categories, however, but as startingpoints for a grounded
theoryofunderlyingsocioculturallogics.

As a potential fourth type, then, it seems more appropriate to talk


about hypertourists (and hypermodern lifestyles) than about post
tourists, since the inherent logic of practice does not escape modern
structures of classification, but rather take them as point of departure
for the creation of experimental, sometimes ironic, stylistic ensembles.
The hypertourist gaze is thus a selfreflexive gaze, focusing the
relationship between personal performances and the (often
stereotyped)processesandexpressionsoftourismitself(Jansson,2002:
43841).Itstilloperateswithintheregimeofmoderntourism,stressing
asenseofsymbolicliminality.TheOtherisnotsomuchthelocalshere,
butthetouristswhateverkind.Duetothelackofempiricalpointsof
reference, however, I will leave this orientation outside the present
discussion.

21

Adventurous
As an extension of the antagonistic mode of spatial
appropriation,touristiccommunicationmightbeframedbyan
adventurous attitude. The adventurer (as a metaphorical type)
holds a strong presence in the history of modern travel and
tourism, as well as in contexts of imaginative consumption.
AccordingtoSimmel(1997),themodernadventurer,whoseeks
newexperiencesinnewenvironmentsprimarilyforthesakeof
personal challenge and arousal, is to be seen as the logical
counterparttotheblasattitudeflourishinginhyperorganized
urbansettings:Anadventureiscertainlypartofourexistence,
[]atthesametime,however,initsdeepermeaning,itoccurs
outside the usual continuity of this life. Nevertheless, it is
distinct from all that is accidental and alien, merely touching
lifesoutershell(ibid:222).Thisistosaythatadventures,like
other forms of tourism, do not expose the individual to any
serious risks, but are framed by rational organization and
preparation most often with the help of professional tour
operators,promisingunconventionaltraveloffthebeatentrack
for small groups. Since adventurous destinations and events
(hiking, trekking, kayaking, etc) are to be found beyond the
spaces of mainstream tourism, the creation of such trips
demands very specialized scripting. When it comes to
navigationandrepresentation,however,thearticulationofthe
adventurous attitude is less clearcut. It might, on one hand,
imply a rejection of communication technologies, since the
absence of technological equipment might enhance the
experience of putting oneself on the line. On the other hand,
the adventurous outlook might lead to a conscious
incorporation of cuttingedge technologies, which then blend
with the overarching drive to test the limits of the possible.
This is partly to expand the realm of secure and encapsulated
touristic mobility, partly to celebrate communication as a

22

spectacle in its own right (sending a digital message from a


mountaintop)hypermediation.
In his fieldwork on tourism in southern Thailand, Nick
Kontogeorgopoulos (2003) could note significant differences
between mass ecotourists, adventurers and backpackers.
While their touristic activities shared an underlying holiday
mentality,includingfun,entertainmentandastrongpresence
of photographic practices, their ways of performing such
activities diverged. Kontogeorgopoulos found that despite
being warned about displaying fancy equipment in front of
poor locals, adventurers travel with expensive, sophisticated
camera equipment, and thefocus on photography as aserious
matterisevidentintheannualphotocompetitionthatXanadu
[adventure trip organizer] holds among its customers (ibid:
180). He also noted that the adventurers more than any other
grouphadastrongdesiretoencounterandcapture,inarather
objectifyingway,authenticnativesonfilm.Thisistosaythat
the adventurous attitude is about seeking out and project
spectacularculturalandnaturalsceneriesandeventsaccording
to scripted typifications. As Cloke and Perkins (1998) argue,
thereisaclearinterconnectionbetweenparadisialnatureand
adventurousactivity,inwhichtouristsareencouragedbothto
gaze at spectacular scenery and grapple with the challenge of
nature (or watch others doing it) (quoted in Perkins and
Thorns, 2001: 196). Through advanced technologies for
representation and navigation the adventurous mind can gain
intensified exotic impulses of tourism reproducing the
Western narrative of exploration and global mastery. At the
sametime,however,theturntowardshypermediationcreates
a new vulnerability, in terms of potential technical failures; a
risk that reality does not fulfil the promises of its mediated
original, and a haunting anxiety for missing the right

23

opportunity for communication, and simultaneously the


touristicexperienceitself.

Immersive
A second attitude can be called symbiotic, or immersive. It
corresponds basically to the notion of cosmopolitan mobility,
discussedbyUlfHannerz(1990).InasubsequentaccountLash
and Urry (1994) state a number of cosmopolitan travel motifs,
among them a curiosity about places, peoples, cultures and
their historical and anthropological roots; an openness
toward and appreciation of cultural differences, and an
aspirationtounderstandtherelativeplaceofonesownsociety
and culture in a broader global framework (quoted in
ThompsonandTambyah,1999:239).Theimmersiveattitudeis
accordingly most likely to be found in more intellectual
groupings with a desire to understand the social and cultural
realities beyond the ordinary tourist destinations, or perhaps
the back regions of these destinations (cf MacCannell,
1976/1999).Inoppositiontoadventuroustravel,theimmersive
type involves an ambition to be connected to local social
networks, trying not to reveal any expressions of the tourist
gaze,andsimultaneouslynottotriggerthelocalgaze(Maoz,
2006). When it comes to communication, then, immersion is
about being on the same level as the locals, which from a
Western perspective normally means getting rid of most
technologicalequipmentthingsthatwouldimmediatelyhave
adecapsulatingeffect,sincetheydistorttheauthentictexture.
Theambitionofencapsulationthroughdemediation(cfStrain,
2003)isalsorelatedtotheantimaterialisticvaluesthatprevail
inclassfractionswithculturalcapital(seeBourdieu,1979/1984;
Holt,1998;Jansson,2001).
Kontogeorgopoulos (2003) found in the above mentioned
study that while backpackers indeed wanted pictures from

24

their trip, their desire to blend into the local community


prevented them from making obvious attempts to take
photographs. In another study of backpackers, Jenkins (2003)
foundthatmostinformantsdidnotwanttoassociatetheirown
representational practices with stereotypical tourist photo
rituals.Additionally,journaling(ratherthanmoretechnological
means of recording) seems to be a way for backpackers to
markthissacredtimeintheirlives,inadditiontothefactthat,
uponreturnhome,thejournalceasestobeapropandbecomes
aninexpensivebutpricelesssouvenir(Shaffer,2004:148).This
is not to say that backpacking is the main correlate of the
immersiveattitude.AsShafferremarks,thereareseveraltypes
of backpackers just one of them being the culture
backpacker, who travels very light and lowtech, considering
travel as a liminal performance [] with the potential of
irrevocable selftransformation (ibid). One must also stress
thatthedesiretogetimmersedcanneverbefulfilledwithinthe
context of tourism. As Thompson and Tambyah (1999) argue,
even among expatriate professionals with a cosmopolitan
outlook, it is common that a sense of not actually being at
homeprevails.Allegedly,alsoamongimmersivetourists,such
feelings integrate an impulse to eventually exit the
encapsulated,demediatedspace.

Performative and Traditional


While the antagonistic and symbiotic modes of appropriating
space entail rather clearcut formulas for how to handle the
accesstoadvancedcommunicationtechnologies(eitherthrough
rejection or extreme mediation), the contextual mode is more
ambivalent. Traveling in a contextual mode is to emphasize
leisure activities and social events that do not put the cultural
authenticity of space at center stage (skiing holidays, sunand
beach packages, spa weekends, etc). What is most important

25

here is that the touristic setting is functional and comfortable,


providing designed and organized amenities for certain
activities. The typical instance is a couple, a family, or some
friends, deciding to take a lastminute charter trip to an
unspecified summer resort, just in order to relax and have a
goodtime.Theremightbeplacespecificfactors,suchasclimate
and natural resources, involved here. But in general, socio
materialspaceismainlyregardedasacontextforgainingsocial
experiences, which in turn might be used as a social resource
afterthetrip,intermsofsharedmemories(cf.Holt,1998:19).
Due to the visual bias of tourism studies, this more
contextual/performative mode has gained relatively little
attention among researchers (cf. Perkins and Thorns, 2003)
compared to the attention paid to for example backpacking,
posttourismandheritagetourism.Thereisalsolittleempirical
material to find regarding how communicative practices
contribute to the encapsulation of this kind of tourism
experiences. There are some exceptions, of course, such as
Bourdieusbroadrangingstudiesofleisureactivitiesingeneral
(1979/1984)andphotographyinparticular(1990),andresearch
dealing with the relationship between vacationing,
photographyandthevisualimageryofpostcards(e.g.Lfgren,
1999;Markwick,2001;HaldrupandLarsen2003;Larsen,2005)
that is, the classical forms of touristic communication.
However, tentatively, there seems to be some support for
proposing a theoretical distinction between performative and
traditionalattitudestocommunication.
The performative attitude is to be understood as an
extension of the desire to gain new social experiences outside
the ordinary frameworks of everyday life, without having to
confront any problematic situations. Encapsulation is
dependent upon the opportunity to perform and elaborate a
socialidentity,orarole,inthecompanyoffellowtravelersand

26

othertouriststakingpartinorganizedaswellasspontaneous
social activities. These scripts are easy to catch, provided in
mainstream touristic representations: happy families on the
beach,youngpartypeopleenjoyingnightlife,etc.AsMarkwick
(2001) notes in her study of Maltese postcards, this trope
(involvingrelaxingorplaying,andoftensexualized,bodies)is
distinctivewithinthetouristicimagery.Still,thesestereotypical
scriptssignifyopennesstoindividualexperimentsinrelationto
what is commonplace within everyday life. New media,
especially cellphones and digital cameras, might then be an
important resource for enhancing the sense of liminal
performativity.Theysustain,ontheonehand,thecoordination
of social activities within the tourist setting, and the desire to
immediately share memorable moments and bodily
performanceswithfamilyandnewandoldfriends.AsHaldrup
and Larsen (2003: 31) found in a study of family vacationing,
many tourists wanted to fill their photos with the
choreography of loved ones, treating popular sights as mere
background just one appropriate location among many
others. On the other hand, new means of communication
reinforce the securitygaining experience of still being able to
contacttheonesbackhome.Hence,althoughthereisalwaysa
riskthatperformativeritualsareturnedintostressfulmoments
ofcommunicativeobligations,sendinganSMSoranMMSto
someone back home might be significant above all as an
encapsulatingtouristicmoment.
In contrast to the performative attitude, the traditional
attituderegardstouristiccommunicationprimarilyasawayto
encapsulatetourismasasacred journey(Graburn,1977).The
potential use of media technologies is not so much about
producing social interaction and performance as it is about
reproducing the classical pattern of touristic rituals. Postcards
are sent, souvenirs bought, and photographs taken, partly to

27

fulfilthetraditionalsetofobligatorytourismprocedures,partly
tosymbolizethatleisureandtourismisnowbeingrealized.As
long as the classical script is followed, the threat of
decapsulationislimited.Accordingly,thetraditionalattitudeis
sceptical to new technology, as well as to other alterations of
oldschool tourism. This can be understood in terms of
Bourdieus (1979/1984) theory of habitus and cultural capital,
sincetheneedtoreproduceunambiguousleisureritualsisare
projectionoforganized,industriallabour.Sincevacationmeans
having time to do other things than pursuing the routines of
work and everyday life, demediation is closely intertwined
with a sense of dedisciplination however superficial. Other
tourist rituals that are likely to fall within this spectrum are:
turningoffthecellphone,notwearingawatch,andrefusingto
watchtelevisionduringvacation.Thisdoesnotmeanthatthere
isaclearconsensusofwhattraditional,orclassical,tourismis,
or that such notions are stable over time. But just as much as
therearedominantviewsofworkdisciplineandmorality,there
arealsocorrespondingsocialunderstandingsofwhatitmeans
tostepoutsidethesestructures.

Conclusion

In this paper I have tried to develop a conceptual framework


for understanding the influence of new, hyperspacebiased
media within the realm of tourism. My point of departure,
following McCannell (1976/1999) has been that touristic
experience, the sense of tourism, is dependent upon the
mutualprocessofstructuralsitesacralizationandcorresponding
ritual attitudes among tourists. At the intersection of these
processes evolves the communicative fabric, or texture, of
touristic space a space that is both sociomaterial, symbolic

28

and imaginative. Touristic textures are produced in order to


encapsulate an experience of liminality a timespace that
separates leisure from work; the extraordinary from the
ordinary.Thesaturationofhyperspacedmediainlatemodern
societymight,ontheonehand,breakthismagic,abolishingthe
boundaries between tourism and everyday life. On the other
hand, it might provide resources for an intensification of
touristic experiences. Ultimately, the desire for encapsulation
demandsacertainreflexivityamongtourists,astowhichmedia
are to be incorporated within leisure trips, and how. There is
always a lingering threat that encapsulation is replaced by
decapsulation.
In order to pinpoint the potential influences of new media
withintheseprocesses,Ihaveproposedthattouristicpractices
are to be understood in terms of a spacecommunication nexus.
This nexus, by extension, can be articulated through three
creative realms, which together make up the hermeneutic
circuits of tourism: scripting, navigation and representation. The
interplay between these realms defines not only touristic
communication, but also the composition and negotiation of
touristic textures. My point is that new media can sustain
increased specialization within all three realms providing
more detailed scripts of potential journeys; aiding tourists to
coordinate their touristic activities more efficiently; making
touristic representations more negotiable and ready for
immediate transmission/sharing. Altogether, new media foster
increasingly specialized processes of encapsulation
reinforcing the overarching postFordist regime of reflexive
accumulation,customizationandmarketsegmentation(cfLash
andUrry,1994).
Simultaneously, however, I also argue that the process of
mediatizationandspecializationdonotnecessarilycorrespond
to a regime of posttourism and increasing dedifferentiation

29

of tourism and everyday life. The appearance of specialized


scripts, patterns of navigation, and representational
frameworks, does not signify an era of bricolage, irony, and
dissolving classifications. Rather, I have tentatively proposed,
thethreatofdedifferentiationanddecapsulationdoesinitself
generatecertainritualattitudesamongtourists,aswellasnew
strategies among travel organizers, for maintaining the
distinctive liminality of modern tourism. Recapitulating a
numberofempiricalstudies,Ihaveshowedhowtechnological
potentials are either rejected or integrated among touristic
practices as more or less distinctive cultural forms (Williams,
1974), which in turn articulate and negotiate touristic textures.
Outlining four principal attitudes the adventurous, the
immersive, the performative, and the traditional I want to
highlight, not primarily the attitudes themselves, but the
socially structured landscape of sedimented values, lifestyles
and predispositions that the appropriation and understanding
of technologies and materialities are always embedded in.
Sociological and geographical notions of posttourism,
surprisingly,tendtomissoutonthissocioculturalsensitivity
reproducing the dominant informational ideology of
unrestricted symbolic flows and structurally freefloating
individuals.
My analysis also shows that there is a need for additional
studiesfocusingthecrucialspacecommunicationnexuswithin
tourism.Thisisapleaformediascholarsandtourismscholars
to work more closely together, as well as for a general
integration of communication theory and geography. It is also
to ask for a continuation of the sensory turn within tourism
studies, challenging the visual bias also when it comes to
communication. As my exploration has shown, most analyses
oftouristiccommunicationsofarhavedealtwithphotography,
postcardsandotherimagebasedmedia.Duetothenetworked

30

character of new media, it is increasingly important to


investigatehowdifferentformsofcommunicationoperateand
converge as ensembles. Finally, future studies of the space
communication nexus must pay closer attention to what we
might call mainstream tourism. Following the visual bias of
tourism studies, most theoretical and empirical accounts of
tourism and mediatization have tended to overstate the
significance of more experimental and expressive segments
notablybymeansofexcludingothergroupsfromthescopeof
discussion.Agoodbeginningwouldbetochartoutpatternsof
touristic communication and experiences of encapsulation by
means of correspondence/correlation analyses. In the spirit of
Bourdieu,andhisexplorationsofculturaltaste,onemightthen
start to unveil the underlying logics of practice in a more
ethnographicmanner.

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Summary

New media create new preconditions for travel and tourism.


The efficiency and lightness of digital, hyperspace biased
media even tend to problematize the very foundation of
tourismthedivisionbetweenbeingathomeandgoingaway.
Until today, however, there are not many studies of how
differentformsoftouristiccommunicationareinterwoven,nor
how new media influence tourism activities and experiences
among different travelers. This paper presents a conceptual
framework for understanding these processes. The concepts of
encapsulation/decapsulation are introduced as a framework for
understanding how the liminal (encapsulated) experience of
tourism is always haunted by its double (decapsulation). It is
also shown that the threat of dedifferentiation and
decapsulation in itself generates certain ritual attitudes among
tourists,aswellasnewstrategiesamongtravelorganizers,for
maintainingtheliminalityoftourism.Recapitulatinganumber
of empirical studies, the paper explores how technological
potentials are either rejected or integrated among touristic
practicesasmoreorlessdistinctiveculturalforms.

38