Zoe Roberts



This thesis aimed to critically synthesise the relationships between cultural capital and perceptions of authenticity in literary tourism experiences. Whilst authenticity is a central theme in literary tourism research, few studies have explored authenticity and Bourdieusian cultural capital concurrently. Thus, this thesis investigates the two concepts and proposes new theory which elicits an in-depth understanding of individual perceptions of authenticity. The study adopted an interpretivist qualitative approach, using an ethnographic research strategy. Ethnographic fieldwork was conducted in Cornwall, UK. In total, 16 face-to-face semi-structured interviews were conducted with literary tourism stakeholders at selected Cornish locations associated with Winston Graham and Poldark. Additionally, the researcher performed a close reading of the twelve Poldark novels and two associated non-literary texts to determine their value as semiotic markers of authenticity. Interview data were analysed using Reflective Thematic Analysis and Framework Method. Findings from this study revealed a nexus between an individual’s cultural capital and their perceptions of authenticity. The participant’s dominant cultural capital stock was variable, although graduate qualifications were the most influential on those who possess these credentials. Thereafter, embodied cultural capital holds the greatest influence on stakeholder perceptions. New tourism knowledge in the form of the authentic gaze was proposed, which conceptualises the relationship between stakeholder cultural capital and their perceptions of authenticity. The authentic gaze offers an explanation of why certain lexical semantics were used by participants to describe the meaning of the concept and how this informs their overall perceptions. Additionally, a nexus between the Poldark tour guide’s cultural capital and their interpretive forms, including the semiotic and photographic markers used within their interpretation was also established. The theoretical contributions of this study present a number of managerial implications and as such, the thesis provides valuable practical recommendations. The first, centres on those stakeholders responsible for the supply of literary tourism experiences conducting the necessary research for eliciting data that can be used to assess the authentic gaze of stakeholders including tourists. Another centres on the provision of markers in marketing and interpretation that satisfy the tourist’s authentic gaze. Lastly, Destination Management Organisations (DMOs) and production companies must work in partnership to determine the market for literary adaptations and film-induced literary tourism experiences.

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License