The Tourist: A New Theory of the Leisure Class First Edition, With a New Introduction
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- Item Weight : 11.2 ounces
- Paperback : 280 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0520280008
- ISBN-13 : 978-0520280007
- Product Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.25 inches
- Publisher : University of California Press; First Edition, With a New Introduction (August 31, 2013)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,061,767 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The author takes the tourist as a model of modern man. He engages in a very effective piece of structural analysis; more effective in my opinion than any ever created by the Old Master, Claude Levi-Strauss. A reader of THE TOURIST will come away having understood everything, not totally baffled by mountains of jargon. The pre-modern world has not disappeared, it has been turned into zillions of tourist attractions. We, the seekers, pilgrims, or, if you like, the tourists, try to get close to the roots of our civilization, to our own origins, by visiting and looking at packaged versions of the past. Where pre-modern societies still exist to some extent, for example, among the hill tribes of Thailand, tourists make great efforts to visit them and, significantly, try their utmost to ensure that their visits are not "packaged" but "real". The tourist wants to penetrate and share the lives of "others", others who are so distinct from ourselves. Tourist satisfaction may be directly correlated to how "authentic" the experience seems to the visitors. That's why having the authentic Hungarian peasant's dinner is important. Unfortunately, you can't really share that dinner if you are travelling with forty other pilgrims in search of authenticity on a large bus. But advertising, as always, can work wonders! Fake authenticity has become the norm.
MacCannell discusses such serious topics as "commodity and symbol", "cultural productions and work groups" and how these relate to work. In subsequent chapters, entitled "Sightseeing and Social Structure", "The Paris Case: Origins of Alienated Leisure", "Staged Authenticity", "A Semiotic of Attraction", "The Ethnomethodology of Sightseers", and "Structure, Genuine and Spurious", the author covers a wide variety of fascinating subjects in a brilliant book which will definitely succeed in making you view tourism in a different way forever afterwards. The pages are crammed with insights, analysis, good examples and interesting observations. This book is the classic work of the Anthropology of Tourism. If you are starting out in the field or are just interested in thinking about tourism in modern life, this is your book. If you are a tourist along the byways of Amazon.com, you might consider making a stop here. You will not find less than an authentic gem.
It seemed like in many ways this was a rebuttal to Daniel Boorstin's "The Image: A Guide to Pseudo Events in America" , which presents a fairly elitist distinction between traveller and tourist. MacCannell expressely mentions Boorstin's ideas and decries them as being counterproductive- that we'd all like to elevate ourselves above the majority, but are mostly deceiving ourselves that this distinction is true.
Also, some very interesting stuff in here about how a sight is established- how it is marked- the interplay of markers and signs. His work on Staged Authenticity is also quite compelling- the idea of Front, Back, and Reality- spaces where everyone can go, restricted spaces that are still modified knowing outsiders will pass through, and spaces that are authentic.
His examples involving Paris are especially interesting. I'd recommend checking out this AND the Boorstin.
Top reviews from other countries
It's good in parts but it doesn't do what it says on the tin. Indeed, Thorstein Veblen is the least quoted and used theorist in the entire book. Instead we get far more Marx, semiotics and various other theoretical approaches. Therein lies the most unsatisfactory aspect of the book. This is that it reads as if it is a written-up PhD thesis, with all of the strengths and weaknesses that suggests: heavy on the theory in places in order to show that he knows it, solid empirical studies (if a bit disparate) to demonstrate extensive fieldwork and a poor relationship between the two. In short, it's a bit uneven in tone and uncertain in direction.
That said, it is a substantial analysis of an important subject and everyone should be able to profit from it. The jargon can be excessive but then that's what sociologists do. Plough through it and there are still plenty of nuggets of entertainment, insight and knowledge. I liked MacCannell's ending. He's concerned to give a balanced view of tourism and offers a thoughtful summation of his views. This isn't some stereotypical elitist attack on the phenomenon. Indeed, he takes such simplistic critics to task. Overall, I'm glad I read it and would be happy to recommend it to anyone interested in the topic.