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Digital technocultures in Nature-based tourism
Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Economics, Geography, Law and Tourism. Dalarna University.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-1763-140x
2023 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis investigates the influences of digital technologies on nature-based tourism (NBT) experiences. I acknowledge that the holistic digitalization of human lives increasingly impacts nature-based tourism. Particularly, I argue that it impacts tourists’ experiential valuation of nature, as well as tourists themselves as experiencers of nature in NBT in ways that need to be further understood.Following contemporary consumer-dominant perspectives on tourism experiences, I argue that tourists’ multi-dimensional valuation of experiences depends greatly on ex-situ factors that exist outside service encounters in NBT and within digitally networked lifeworld experienced by tourists, which informs how they value themselves and what they experience. However, such lifeworlds are poorly acknowledged in research on NBT experiences. Building on consumer culture theory, I argue that NBT tourists are cultural agents, and their NBT experiences are highly affected by how their lifeworlds are ingrained in marketplace cultures that discipline what is valuable and experienced in NBT. Such marketplace cultures, which are becoming increasingly digital and technological, can be conceptualized as digital technocultures. More than simply enhancing experiences, as extant literature suggests, digital technology provides lifestyle scripts, ideologies, identity myths, symbolic universes, and stories associated with the everyday, tourism, and consumption of nature. The latter are powerful actors in shaping consumers’ meaning making, sensescapes, emotions, behaviors, and ultimately experience valuations of nature in NBT. Across the four papers and the additional discussion that compose it, this thesis investigates how digital technocultures shape the identity of tourist experiencers in NBT and how they impact the valuation of nature in NBT. The thesis adopts a mix of novel, in-depth, thick, and interpretive methodologies to gain such knowledge. Findings offer thick consumer knowledge and a high-level consumer insight into NBT tourists. In digital technocultures, NBT tourists and their experiences of nature are contested among different digital and disconnected selves. Tourists appropriate digital technocultures and NBT according to identity projects that aim to assemble valued digital “experiencers” and at taking part in valued in e-tribes reflecting them in one’s lifeworld. At the same time, tourists negotiate digital technocultures disciplining their lifeworlds in order to build a valued escapist, liberated and disconnected Self in nature. Moreover, digital technocultures discipline, abstract, and extremify specific aspects of nature. These are sought, desired, imagined, and experienced as digital hyperrealities in NBT. This thesis explores the implications of digital technocultures of experience for NBT, which have so far been insufficiently acknowledged.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sundsvall: Mid Sweden University , 2023. , p. 251
Series
Mid Sweden University doctoral thesis, ISSN 1652-893X ; 389
Keywords [en]
Nature-based tourism, digital technology, tourism experience, consumer culture, technoculture, extended self
National Category
Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-48159ISBN: 978-91-89786-15-8 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:miun-48159DiVA, id: diva2:1751586
Public defence
2023-05-26, Kunskapens väg 8, Östersund, 10:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

Vid tidpunkten för disputationen var följande delarbete opublicerat: delarbete 4 manuskript.

At the time of the doctoral defence the following paper was unpublished: paper 4 in manuscript.

Available from: 2023-04-19 Created: 2023-04-18 Last updated: 2023-04-19Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Instagramming nature-based tourism experiences: a netnographic study of online photography and value creation
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Instagramming nature-based tourism experiences: a netnographic study of online photography and value creation
2020 (English)In: Tourism Management Perspectives, ISSN 2211-9736, E-ISSN 2211-9744, Vol. 34, article id 100650Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The purpose of this research is to explore the role of online photography in creating experience value in nature-based tourism, and what types of experience value are conveyed through photography-based user-generated content. The paper draws from existing literature in defining tourism experience value as a subjective, inter-subjective and inter-contextual construct, performed by situated valuation practices. Consequently, the paper presents interpretive and participatory netnography as an effective method to investigate experience value, and identifies online photography on Instagram as both a valuing practice and a valuing place. Results show the capability of online photography-based UGC to create multidimensional values from strategic combinations of textual and visual content. Simultaneously, new dimensions of experience value are introduced, which exist beyond single tourism experiential encounters, but critically contribute to an iterative experience valuation. Finally, Instagram posts introduce valuation timelines that can elude linear models of pre/in-situ/post-experience valuation, and assume subjective and fluid connotations.

Keywords
Netnography, Instagram, Nature-based tourism, National park, Experience value, Value co-creation, Online photography, Social media
National Category
Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-38606 (URN)10.1016/j.tmp.2020.100650 (DOI)000531603800010 ()2-s2.0-85080134161 (Scopus ID)
Funder
Interreg Sweden-Norway, 20201307
Available from: 2020-03-09 Created: 2020-03-09 Last updated: 2023-04-18Bibliographically approved
2. Liminality in nature-based tourism experiences as mediated through social media
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Liminality in nature-based tourism experiences as mediated through social media
2020 (English)In: Tourism Geographies, ISSN 1461-6688, E-ISSN 1470-1340, Vol. 22, no 2, p. 413-432Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The intersection between social media, liminality and nature-based tourism experiences hasn’t been the focus of previous tourism research. Such intersection, on the other hand, is illustrative of how social media relate to the constitution and performance of tourism spatialities, tourist identities, storytelling and place-making, and can lead to relevant theoretical contributes. We aim to investigate how liminality is expressed in relation to nature-based experiences by tourists on social media, and what role social media plays in mediating liminality during nature-based tourism experiences. The analysis is based on a participatory netnography of images and text posts, as well as online interviews with users of the popular social media Instagram. Findings show that the expression of tourism experiences in nature is closely related to specific notions of liminal otherness as opposed to the urban life and the everyday, where nature and wilderness are expressed as related to the genuine, the authentic and a true inner self. Creative combinations of pictures, captions and hashtags make it easier for tourists to express the contrast between the natural landscape and the everyday landscape once they returned home. These combinations also relate closely to performances of resistant and alternative selves and communities. At the same time, such performances are mediated and contested between freedom of self-expression, surveillance and social norms, an aspect that makes their liminal nature ambiguous. 

Keywords
Instagram, liminal space, Liminality, nature-based tourism, netnography, social media, tourism experience
National Category
Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-36900 (URN)10.1080/14616688.2019.1648544 (DOI)000481140300001 ()2-s2.0-85070533736 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2019-08-20 Created: 2019-08-20 Last updated: 2023-04-18Bibliographically approved
3. Disconnection in nature-based tourism experiences: an actor-network theory approach
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Disconnection in nature-based tourism experiences: an actor-network theory approach
2022 (English)In: Annals of Leisure Research, ISSN 1174-5398, p. 1-18Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

Recent studies question whether ubiquitous connectivity via mobiles represents an enhancer and facilitator in nature-based tourism experiences or a potential destructor to disconnect from. We argue that extant research approaches cannot fully grasp the complexity of the connectivity-disconnection dilemma, specifically how tourists appropriate, reinterpret, reshape, and negotiate with meanings inscribed in mobiles and how such negotiations link to valuations of nature-based experiences. This research adopts an interpretivist approach and uses actor-network theory to investigate negotiations of connectivity and their experiential meanings through field interviews in Fulufjället National Park, Sweden. Results reveal translations of social connectivity, facilitation of information and orientation as thematic cores of tourists’ embodiments of mobile connectivity. Results also show how the comprehensive tourismscape where such embodiments find meaning contributes to tourists’ definitions of disconnection. Such definitions comprise human and non-human actors on site, off site, and cannot be exhausted by essentialist dualisms between being plugged and unplugged.

Keywords
disconnection, actor-network theory, nature-based tourism, digital-free travel, national parks, Sweden
National Category
Human Aspects of ICT
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-48158 (URN)10.1080/11745398.2022.2150665 (DOI)
Available from: 2023-04-18 Created: 2023-04-18 Last updated: 2023-04-18Bibliographically approved
4. VR Tourism and Eudemonia in nature-based Virtual Environments
Open this publication in new window or tab >>VR Tourism and Eudemonia in nature-based Virtual Environments
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Human Aspects of ICT
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-48154 (URN)
Available from: 2023-04-18 Created: 2023-04-18 Last updated: 2023-04-18Bibliographically approved

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