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Title:Postmodern tourism as signification: definitional constructs of authenticity in the context of tourism and their influence on the urban tourist experience
Author(s):Shim, Chang Sup
Director of Research:Santos, Carla A.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Santos, Carla A.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Vargas, Patrick T.; Kim, Tschangho John; Payne, Laura L.
Department / Program:Recreation, Sport and Tourism
Discipline:Recreation, Sport, and Tourism
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Urban Tourism
Postmodern Tourism
Abstract:This research examined how individuals define authenticity and how their different definitions affect their preference for urban tourism and preferred urban attractions, employing quantitative methodology. Authenticity has been explored in a wide range of tourist activities, from traditional tourist activities like visiting museums or historic sites to more popular activities like shopping or watching sports. Due to its contextual, fluid nature and expansive range of connotations, the concept of authenticity is still controversial and has generated numerous discussions among tourism scholars. Moreover, to date, the concept of authenticity has been limited to conceptual and interpretative research, and has not been sufficiently examined through quantitative research methods. The objective of my dissertation was to illuminate three main inquires about authenticity in tourism: first, what are the various definitions of authenticity held by tourists; second, how does authenticity influence the tourist experience; and third, what is the relationship between object- and subject-oriented authenticity. To accomplish this, I developed an Object-oriented Authenticity Scale and a Subject-oriented Authenticity Scale. In the first phase, I used Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk), an online labor market where researchers can list tasks with associated monetary rewards, to collect 316 questionnaires. The resulting scale development revealed four valid definitional constructs in the context of tourism for object-oriented authenticity: Traditional Authenticity, Scientific Authenticity, Contemporary Authenticity, and Denial of Authenticity; and three valid definitional constructs for subject-oriented authenticity: Self-Discovery, Self-Involvement, and Human Relationship. Using the same data, I developed two additional scales, a Preference for Urban Tourism Scale and a Proffered Urban Attractions Scale. In the next phase, I utilized descriptive statistics, confirmatory factor analysis, correlation analysis, and step-wise multiple regression analysis with the four scales developed in the prior phase to examine how respondents’ various definitions of authenticity influence their tourist experiences in urban areas. I collected another 470 questionnaires, employing MTurk. The results showed that the seven definitional constructs of authenticity predicted unique variances in the preference for urban tourism and preferred urban attractions. Nineteen key findings emerged from the three inquires about authenticity in tourism. With respect to definitions of authenticity in tourism, I found that: 1) the definitional constructs related to subject-oriented authenticity were more important to respondents than were those related to object-oriented authenticity; 2) the conventional definition of object-oriented authenticity involved two distinct constructs, Traditional Authenticity and Scientific Authenticity, whereas previous studies have largely considered object-oriented authenticity to be a one-dimensional construct; 3) there is a definitional construct of object-oriented authenticity, Contemporary Authenticity, never previously validated; 4) Denial of Authenticity is a valid definitional construct of object-oriented authenticity; 5) Local Authenticity is not a valid definitional construct of object-oriented authenticity, even though many scholars have assumed it to be; 6) Self-Awareness and Free Expression, which many psychologists have distinguished in a more general context as two separate constructs of subject-oriented authenticity, were found to constitute only one distinct construct, Self-Discovery, within the tourism context; and 7) two conceptual constructs of subject-oriented authenticity, Self-Involvement and Human Relationship, are valid, distinct authenticity definitional constructs. With respect to the influence of authenticity in tourism, I found that: 1) the definitional constructs of authenticity did not serve as strong predictors of the preference for urban tourism and for preferred urban attractions; 2) respondents’ preference for urban tourism was positively influenced by Contemporary Authenticity, Denial of Authenticity, and Self-Discovery; 3) the current findings with respect to the influence of Traditional Authenticity and Scientific Authenticity on the preferred urban attractions is consistent with previous studies; 4) Contemporary Authenticity and Denial of Authenticity influence the preference for Everyday Spaces, Shopping and Entertainment Sites, and Night Spots; 5) the definitional construct of Self-Discovery only influences the preference for Night Spots; 6) the definitional construct of Self-Involvement is the most influential factor affecting respondents’ preference for all six types of urban attractions; 7) the definitional construct of Human Relationship influences the preference for Shopping and Entertainment Sites and Everyday Space, while it has a negative impact on the preference for Historic Sites and Museums; 8) most tourists prefer to visit shopping and entertainment sites, even though they hold quite different definitions of authenticity. There are four findings regarding the relationship between object- and subject-oriented authenticity: 1) tourists are likely to experience authenticity about toured objects and about getting in touch with their authentic selves to a similar extent; 2) there was no significant interaction between object- and subject-oriented authenticity in shopping, entertainment, nature-based sites, and night spots; 3) tourists’ definition of subject-oriented authenticity was significantly more influential in their preference for historic sites, museums, folk sites, ethnic sites, and everyday spaces than their definition of object-oriented authenticity; and 4) tourists’ definition of object-oriented authenticity was not significantly influential in their definition of subject-oriented authenticity in any urban tourism setting. The current findings provide six important implications: 1) the concept of authenticity, in particular how individuals define authenticity, still plays an important role in originating, constructing, and characterizing the tourist experience; 2) the tourist experience is more significantly affected by what allows individuals to get in touch with their authentic selves than by what allows them to admit the authenticity of toured object; 3) many tourists think of authenticity in terms of the degree to which they are involved in the attractions; this definitional construct of authenticity more strongly affects their preference for the attractions than any other definitional constructs of authenticity, regardless of attraction type; 4) in the context of tourism, the concept of authenticity includes the everyday contemporary reality of destinations; 5) in tourism settings, the concept of subject-oriented authenticity, particularly how individuals identify and express their authentic selves, is closely associated with the concept of liminality; and 6) the current study provides some findings about particular types of urban attractions in terms of authenticity.
Issue Date:2013-05-24
Rights Information:Copyright 2013 Chang Sup Shim
Date Available in IDEALS:2013-05-24
Date Deposited:2013-05

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