Hotel Babylon? Exploring hotels as liminal sites of transition and transgression
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This paper draws on cultural studies and cultural geography in its examination of hotels as remarkable, but under-explored spaces in postmodern travel and tourism. It is argued that discourses of liminality and the carnivalesque can be read to frame the spatial construction of contemporary hotels and that these peculiar configurations of open, closed and negotiable abstracted spaces can offer a range of opportunities for transgressive behaviour and sexual adventure. The paper thus foregrounds the potential liminality of the hotel in a wider discussion of its spatiality. In other words, it argues for a more critical consideration of how hotel space and social relations are made through each other and explores the hotel as a complex, culturally contested and ideologically laden liminal place, where dominant discourses of space and wider hegemonic socio-cultural relations are resisted, contested or affirmed. The paper also attempts to contribute to the putative critical perspective in hospitality studies through this conceptualisation and through its call to augment the hospitality research agenda to encompass detailed research into issues of power, identity and sexuality in hospitality spaces—places which, whilst on one level are operational entities, can also be interpreted as liminal thresholds of transition and transgression. The paper is firmly positioned as an exploratory one since it is based on secondary sources and its contribution lies not in any presentation of empirical work, but in its conceptualisation of hotels as hybrid, multi-dimensional spaces and in its advocacy of further research into the hotel as a sociological construct.
Pritchard, A. and Morgan, N., (2006) Hotel Babylon? Exploring hotels as liminal sites of transition and transgression. Tourism Management, 27(5), pp.762-772.
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