Managing Ethical Consumption in Tourism

Hawkins, Rebecca (2015) Managing Ethical Consumption in Tourism. Tourism Management, 51. p. 282. doi:10.1016/j.tourman.2015.05.022

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This is a new and much needed addition to the surprisingly under-studied issue of ethics as they apply to the tourism industry, with the main text in the field still being Fennell (2006) which was an introductory text in the field. This book is a complementary contribution, being an edited collection that builds upon that existing text with a series of new insights. The topic of this new book is a fascinating one and the authors acknowledge the sad state of thinking about ethics within tourism academia – a fact acknowledged in the opening line “The current place of ethics in the tourism studies order of things may be characterised as marginal at best”. In chapter after chapter, authors acknowledge a lack of critical thought about ethical consumption in tourism. The reader cannot help but feel a sense of disappointment – and perhaps disillusionment – that none of the contributions really take thinking forwards on the central topic of how ethical consumption in tourism can be stimulated or how tourists can be nudged to look beyond ‘hedonistic pleasure’ (a recurrent theme). Weedon and Boluk acknowledge the shortcomings in the critical frameworks for reviewing ethical consumption in tourism. They also state that ethics holds a central position both in theory and practice in other disciplines. This theory from other disciplines is not extensively explored further within the text and nor is the reason that it is not widely utilised within tourism. The wealth of literature and concepts associated with consumer behaviour change (think the Nudge, the Shove and similar initiatives that have dominated the discourse among NGOs and academics in other fields about stimulating consumer behaviour change) could add a fantastic lens through which to view the existing text and highlight the need for more serious and critical thinking in the application of ethics and tourism. That being said, the text covers a wide range of issues that surround the ethical consumption debate in tourism and includes some well written and comprehensive papers. The topics themselves range from voluntourism to ethical food. They are written from a range of perspectives such as that of the individual as a traveller and focus on little studied issues, such as the role of emotion in tourism. When one reaches the end of the text, it with a feeling that there are some powerful messages in here, but a rather frustrating lack of cohesion about the whole. Perhaps this is the result of a lack of a stated position about what ethical consumption really means in a tourism context. There can be little doubt that ethical consumption in tourism is controversial turf and is ripe for the picking. This is one of the first substantial pieces of work to be offered in this space since Fennell (2006) who introduced the subject area. It can only be hoped that it is followed by others that clearly set the framework for ethical thinking within tourism and that take the debate from the broader ethical business world and apply it in a tourism context.

Item Type: Article
Article Type: Book Review
Uncontrolled Keywords: Sustainable tourism
Related URLs:
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General) > G154.9 Travel and State. Tourism
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management > HD60 Social responsibility in business
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Business, Computing and Social Sciences
Research Priority Areas: Applied Business & Technology
Depositing User: Susan Turner
Date Deposited: 06 Jan 2016 14:57
Last Modified: 05 Aug 2023 11:45

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