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Contradictions in climate concern: Performances of home and away

Cohen, SA and Higham, JES (2012) Contradictions in climate concern: Performances of home and away In: Tourism, Climate Change and Sustainability. Routledge, London, pp. 257-270. ISBN 1849714223

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There is a burgeoning body of academic literature (e.g. Becken, 2007; Gössling et al, 2006; Hares et al, 2010) that examines if and how consumer concern about climate change manifests itself in tourist behavioural practices. These works build on a wealth of previous studies that consider how consumer concern over issues of sustainable development may also affect tourist behaviour. Indeed, whilst tourism’s climate impacts have lately been a hot topic, there is no doubt that issues of climate change are within the remit of, and need to be considered alongside, wider discourses of sustainable development (Weaver, 2011). Recent research focussed explicitly on the climate impacts of tourism and associated tourism transport reflects the realisation in the academy that the tourism industry, characterised by energy-intensive consumption, is a significant contributor to accelerating global climate change. Despite the claim, however, that tourism is increasingly blended into the fabric of everyday life (Edensor, 2007), the mass of tourism still largely occurs as a bounded experience outside the rhythms of the day-to-day, which is both extraordinary and often involving conspicuous consumption. With tourism often experienced as an event set apart from the day-to-day, it is unsurprising that few studies, with the notable exception of Barr et al (2010), have sought to understand tourist environmental concern in relation to a wider scope of everyday lives and daily decision-making. The present chapter seeks to further understandings of how tourism consumption, and its consequent carbon emissions, are made sense of and justified by consumers in relation to everyday life decisions. Based on 30 open-ended, semi-structured interviews carried out in the United Kingdom and Norway in 2009, the chapter illustrates consistencies and 2 inconsistencies in the climate sensitivities of UK and Norwegian consumers in relation to both everyday domestic (home) and tourism (away) practices. Modern theory on tourism as liminoid space (Turner, 1982) and postmodern theory that suggests personal identity (and consequently behaviour) is inconsistent and performed differently across varying contexts (Bell, 2008; Edensor, 2001) are used as complementary explanatory devices for understanding some of the participants’ seemingly contradictory consumption decisions. The research consequently reveals significant paradoxes in consumer climate sensitivities between the everyday and holidays. These findings hold important implications for the viability of climate change mitigation strategies and sustainable development goals that rely, at least in part, on nudging individual lifestyles towards less carbon-intensive consumption choices.

Item Type: Book Section
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > School of Hospitality and Tourism Management
Authors :
Cohen, SA
Higham, JES
Editors :
Reddy, MV
Wilkes, K
Date : 5 September 2012
Additional Information : This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published in: Tourism, Climate Change and Sustainability (2012), Reddy MV, Wilkes K. (eds), pp.257-270, London: Rouledge. The final version of the book chapter as published in Tourism, Climate Change and Sustainability (2012), © Taylor & Francis is available online at:
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 14 Sep 2012 14:28
Last Modified : 31 Oct 2017 14:45

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