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Title: Emotional encounters with food in the tourism context
Authors: Ji, Mingjie
Degree: Ph.D.
Issue Date: 2017
Abstract: In the contemporary world businesses and marketers are increasingly examining consumer experience and its associated meanings. Tourism researchers who examine tourist experience do not fully follow this principle. Most of the recent studies have viewed the tourist 'body' as an object of control or as a surface of inscription, with a tendency to disregard its function as a 'living entity' that interprets and refigures the world in its own right. The meaning of tourist experiences is reduced to the differentiated and significant whilst other mundane, episodic aspects of the experience are filtered. Recently, some scholars have attempted to overcome these challenges by advocating for the adoption of an 'embodied' perspective that emphasizes both the mental and the corporeal. Following their call for an embodied perspective, this study conceptualizes the tourist 'experience' as an 'encounter' which emphasizes active participation by the tourist's imaginative, reflexive faculties; and also the multi-sensory and multi-dimensional. As proposed here, the embodiment perspective involves a kaleidoscope of elusive yet intricate concepts and relations. The researcher has selected the emotional lens as a medium to study tourists' embodied experiences. This approach takes account of the relationship between embodiment and emotions, of the relative conceptual clarity of the concept of 'emotions', and its stress on behavioral implications. The adoption of an emotional lens is associated with several challenges. Despite the growing number of studies about emotions, most have interpreted this concept as a 'label' of universal value. The aim has often been to identify and confirm the universality of emotions within the context of tourism. Few have explored the meanings behind the emotions that are being expressed. In cases where researchers have explored the meanings that are associated with the emotions, they have tended to reduce them to various 'antecedents' which have been drawn from the theory of emotional appraisal. This approach resulted in the lack of a close and/or nuanced engagement with the concept of emotions. Personal, social and cultural elements were ignored. The present study aims to address such deficiencies by drawing upon the multifaceted nature of emotions. It proposes the term 'emotional encounters'. This term is used to explore (1) emotional labels, (2) the reasons that prompted the emotions (3) the meaning making that is associated with tourism encounters and (4) prospective actions or behavioral intentions. This study explores the concept of 'emotional encounters' in a currently overlooked context, namely, tourist dining.
Food is an expression of culture and locality and has become an important resource that is used by tourism destination marketers. Given its multisensory characteristics, food offers various opportunities to engage tourists and elicit an embodied element in the experience. Such experiences involve tourist imaginings and their persistent efforts to make sense of the food that they encounter. They also involve tourist reflections about their prior knowledge and beliefs and create new desires, intentions and relationships. Although tourists' dining experiences have received much recent attention from researchers, their methods have largely followed the positivist tradition and have disregarded consumption as a multi-engaged and embodied experience. From the researcher's perspective this is symptomatic of a rather reduced understanding of the food experience. Such a perception has limited relevance to service management that significantly rely on the concept of experience economy. This thesis adopts the emotional perspective to explore tourists' embodied encounters when consuming iconic food in restaurant settings. This study was set in the context of Portuguese restaurants in Macau and used participant observation and Zaltman Metaphor-Elicitation Technique (i.e. a combined technique of Laddering, visual method and in-depth interview). It identifies various tourist emotional encounters, including the pursuit of elegant experiences, imaginings of Portugal and Portuguese people, romanticizing the Macau past and the aspiration of visiting Portugal in future. Proposing the term 'emotional encounters', this study adopts an alternative emotional lens to explore embodied experiences and focusses on the embodied and sociological aspects of emotions. It enriches the current understandings about tourist dining experiences by adopting an emotional and embodied perspective. The application of ZMET also demonstrates an alternative data collection method that is effective for capturing the often neglected intangible, episodic and nonverbal aspects of experiences.
Subjects: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Food tourism
Food tourism -- China -- Macau (Special Administrative Region)
Tourism -- China -- Macau (Special Administrative Region)
Pages: xi, 199 pages : color illustrations
Appears in Collections:Thesis

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