Representing ‘the Real’: Realism and Visual Culture in Tourism, Leisure and Ethnography
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The collection and use of visual evidence is widespread in a wide range of academic and professional activities. The paper explores the similarities and differences of a range of related phenomena: realism, documentary and authenticity. The status of the ‘realism effect’ is evaluated in a range of leisure activities with an emphasis on tourism and the significance of realist texts in popular culture in narrative and nonnarrative forms. The creative treatment of the representation of reality in the documentary tradition is highlighted. The paper emphasises the pleasures to be gained from ‘experiencing the real’ using semiotics and film theory, in particular. There is a discussion of the possible ideological effects of these pleasures as well as more fundamental matters relating to the extent to which we are able to actually experience the ‘real’ in any meaningful way. The argument develops that the pleasures of realist cultural forms may also be found in academic work too. The representations of reality using written and visual forms in ethnography are explored: consumers of academic work as well as popular cultural forms employ a series of codes and conventions and these forms may be subjected to post-structuralist analyses.
Gilhespy, I. and Harris, D. (2011) 'Representing ‘the Real’: Realism and Visual Culture in Tourism, Leisure and Ethnography', Journal of Tourism Consumption and Practice, 3(1), pp.51-68
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