Tourism and Thai People:Social Representations of Tourism Development and Its Social Impact As Perceived By Bangkok Residents

Tranakjit Yutyunyong (2010). Tourism and Thai People:Social Representations of Tourism Development and Its Social Impact As Perceived By Bangkok Residents PhD Thesis, School of Journalism and Communication, The University of Queensland.

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Author Tranakjit Yutyunyong
Thesis Title Tourism and Thai People:Social Representations of Tourism Development and Its Social Impact As Perceived By Bangkok Residents
School, Centre or Institute School of Journalism and Communication
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2010-03
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Associate Professor Stephen Craig-Smith
Associate Professor Eric Louw
Total pages 220
Total colour pages 3
Total black and white pages 217
Subjects 15 Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services
Abstract/Summary This study examines the social representations of Thailand’s tourism development and related social impact, as perceived by respondents from Bangkok, Thailand. Employing social representations theory (SRT) and social exchange theory (SET), this study adopts qualitative methods to obtain respondents’ representations of tourism development in Bangkok. For the study, forty in-depth interviews and four focus-group interviews were conducted with respondents who were either involved or not involved in the tourism industry. The two main issues considered were, firstly, the determination of the concepts used to perceive tourism development and its social impact among Thai people and, secondly, how social exchanges affected these perceptions. The research suggests that there are four clusters of respondents who share common perceptions and certain socio-economic characteristics. Cluster one: respondents in this cluster are highly involved in tourism and are mostly of high socio-economic status. They share perceptions of Thailand’s tourism development as moving slowly forward, but hampered by red-tape management and bureaucratic problems. This cluster views economic impact in a positive light, especially with regard to the country’s increased revenue, and they perceive of culture as a tourism product. This group viewed environmental impact as a global problem and they mostly expressed the view that the tourism industry has a social responsibility to reduce the causes of pollution. Cluster two: respondents in this cluster are not involved in tourism and have a high socio-economic status. They perceive tourism development as having both positive and negative aspects. Economic impacts were represented both positively, in terms of national revenues and job creation, and negatively, in terms of fostering a materialistic society. Generally, this cluster views the social impact of tourism more negatively. Cluster three: respondents in this cluster are in mid-level-management positions in industries both involved and not involved in the tourism industry. They perceive tourism development in both positive and negative terms. They have favourable views of the economic impact of tourism and view Thai culture as a tourism product. Some respondents in this cluster are concerned about the environmental impact of tourism. Cluster four: respondents in this cluster have a low socio-economic status and include those involved and not involved in the tourism industry. This cluster perceived tourism development in positive terms. They predominantly viewed tourism development as a way to modernise society. This study also found six factors that affect individuals’ social representations of tourism development and social impact: personal benefits, socio-economic background, cultural values, personal traits, and socially derived and direct experiences. Of these, four were intrinsic factors—personal traits, direct experiences, individual benefits, and socio-economic backgrounds. The remaining two - socially derived and cultural values - were extrinsic factors. This study found that extrinsic factors are the main sources of individual representations and lead to hegemonic social representations. The significance and contribution of this research lies in two categories—theoretical and practical. From the theoretical angle, this research makes a number of contributions to the body of knowledge of social representation and social exchange. In terms of a practical contribution, these results can assist the Thai government to review the issues raised and ultimately provide more effective management.
Keyword Social exchange theory
social impact
social representations theory
Tourism development
Additional Notes 60, 136, 143

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Created: Fri, 20 Aug 2010, 21:43:35 EST by Ms Tranakjit Yutyunyong on behalf of Library - Information Access Service