Actor-Network Theory and Tourism, Ordering, Materiality and MultiplicityTourism Management


Michelle T. McLeod
Strategy and Management / Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management / Development / Transportation


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more than a ‘touch of multiplicity’ as suggested by the editors. thors of beginnings are the editors, Jóhannesson, Ren and van der

Thereby, tourism destinations are constituted by emerging relations that involve both human and non-human actors and those actors are held together by a network of inter-dependent relations.

The idea that tourism phenomenon involves inter-relationships is not new (Goeldner & Ritchie, 2006; Tribe, 1997), but what is new is the idea that non-humans enact in network relationships and therefore have agency to determine network outcomes. Thus, and explained the agency of tourism objects. The dynamics of orchapter 5 Sumoni applied ANT to understand cigars as an enactment of tourism in Cuba. This case study highlights tourism translation as entanglements which are represented by the smoking of cigars. Then chapter 6, written by Haug, considers how risk is enacted and performed in relation to the Norwegian mountain of Besseggen. The main argument is that risk has agency as an actor which, once enacted, results in risk being performed. at a ls

Tourism Management 37 (2013) 48–49Duim. The introduction, chapter 1, highlights that tourism mobilities involve associations, entanglements, orderings and relations. derings are subject to pre-existing orderings and therefore this interface called ‘a complex dance of agency’ creates effects. InThis edited collection is organised into eleven chapters written by eleven authors and four chapters were written by the editors.

Although chapters are not grouped into themes the book may be divided into three main themes: beginnings (chapters 1–3); understandings (chapters 4–7); and orderings (chapters 8–11). The au-Book Review

Actor-Network Theory and Tourism, Ordering, Materiality and

Multiplicity, René van der Duim, Carina Ren, Gunnar Thór

Jóhannesson, Routledge (2012). Price £80.75, 180 pp. (hardback)

ISBN: 978-0-415-62072-7

Actor-network theory (ANT) provides an opportunity to reconceptualise the tourism phenomenon and therefore Jóhannesson,

Ren and van der Duim combined a volumewith ideas relating tomateriality, multiplicity and enactment, which may transform traditional tourism thought. There is a belief that by understanding ordering of the tourism phenomenon from both human social and non-human perspectives of enactment (Ren, 2011) that tourism theory is enriched. The editors, in their chapter regarding tourismscapes, argue that ANT is an alternative ontology and suggested that given certain actor-networks, tourism practices emerge as an assemblage or gathering. By adopting these ideas the editors propose to strengthen tourism theory. In their view, social arrangements are held together by an actor-network and it was suggested that the reality of tourism transcends physical location to include imagery in themind as noted by Bærenholdt in chapter 8. As a result, pictures and brochures have agency which enact tourism practices.

Action which actors engage with is referred to as agency. Thus, ANT changes how the workings of tourism are perceived as tourism is enacted and performed through translations rather than planned and developed. Translation involves change, adjustment and adaptation of actors, entities and places (van der Duim, 2007) and the result of translation is an order. ANT may potentially revolutionise theway tourism ismanaged, as tourismmanagement would involve ordering being normalised in tourismscapes. Based on a tourismscape’s gatherings, the editors therefore suggested that ‘unorthodox’ informants, non-humans, become the subjects fromwhich data are collected. If ANT views are adopted by mainstream tourism academics and practitioners, the potential consequences would be

Contents lists available

Tourism M journal homepage: www.e0261-5177/$ – see front matter elements (non-human) of the destination are equally important as the social (human) elements.

The second chapter entitled ‘[h]ow ANT works’ distinguishes

ANT including its epistemological and ontological traditions. Actornetworks depict complex interaction of multiple actors and these actors perform based on the actors’ attributes. The editors suggested that these actor-networks translate as the inter-relational dynamics emerge and each translation results in an order, however, the idea that there are different modes of orders in relation to tourism destinations requires further clarification. For instance, reference was made to Law (1999) relational stability and this concept in relation to tourism requires explanation. Does relational stability relates to the stability of a new target market in the destination? Although

Granovetter (1973) was notmentioned, his work regarding ‘strength of weak ties’was noted in relation to Latour (1996), whomade reference to strong network relationships formed through the plaiting of weak ties. Clarification is also neededwith regard to the editors’ suggestion that human agency is limited by their lack of ‘free will’ since perhaps humans are the primary key who determine the creation of some non-human entities. Herein is the continuance of the structure versus agency debate (DiMaggio, 1992; Nadel & Fortes, 1957). The editors suggested that tourism reality is multiple and therefore new methodology has to be adopted to trace ‘translations’. A translation involves the enactment or interaction of network actors. Such methodological pursuits become challenging based on the idea that non-humans enact. For example, how is a hotel translated and ordered and how can one discover the actors of a hotel? Chapter 3 applies ANT to tourism and refers to the tourism destination as a ‘tourismscape’, a term coined by van der Duim (2007). Franklin’s (2004) work provides the foundational thought that tourism involves relational materialism and therefore tourismscapes are multiple hybrid actor-networks, interconnecting systems translated across geographical areas. Tourists therefore consume tourismscapes and it was suggested that the tourist takes ‘centre stage’ as a network actor, although non-human actors depict agency through an ability to configure interaction across time and space. Thus, tourismscapes converge and sustain or diverge and decline.