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Liminality in nature-based tourism experiences as mediated through social media

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Author list: Conti, Eugenio
Publication year: 2019
ISSN: 1461-6688
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Abstract

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.


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