Selling ethics: Discourses of responsibility in tourism

Sin, Harng Luh (2017) Selling ethics: Discourses of responsibility in tourism. Annals of the American Association of Geographers, 107 (1). pp. 218-234.

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This article explores the grammars of responsibility through a discourse analysis of selected travel guidebooks and argues that critical theory and popular media have so far failed to bridge the gap between ideologies and practices of responsibilities. As it stands, an unspoken assumption that a particular set of practices (e.g., buying goods labeled as fair trade or boycotting sweatshop-produced clothing) is perpetuated as undeniably responsible. As long as important questions on what constitutes being ethical and by whose standards this is evaluated against is neglected, however, there is a danger of pursuing practices deemed irrefutably responsible, although they are not responsible or ethical at all. Building on the postcolonial critiques on literature in geographies of responsibilities (Raghuram, Madge, and Noxolo 2009; Jazeel and McFarlane 2010; Noxolo, Raghuram, and Madge 2011), this article interrogates the discourses of responsibility circulated in popular media and, using examples from tourism, highlights the problematic nature of perpetuating a series of universalized instructions regarding one's responsibilities, while revealing the many inconsistencies advocated once one takes a closer and more critical look at what is suggested. What is needed is an effort to close the gap between practices and ideologies of responsibility, where a conscious postcolonial understanding of the variance of ideals of responsibilities across time and space is reflected in our practices and how we understand practices of responsibilities.

Item ID: 73848
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1467-8306
Copyright Information: © 2016 by American Association of Geographers
Date Deposited: 24 May 2022 01:23
FoR Codes: 35 COMMERCE, MANAGEMENT, TOURISM AND SERVICES > 3508 Tourism > 350804 Tourism marketing @ 30%
47 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 4702 Cultural studies > 470203 Consumption and everyday life @ 30%
44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4404 Development studies > 440404 Political economy and social change @ 40%
SEO Codes: 11 COMMERCIAL SERVICES AND TOURISM > 1104 Tourism services > 110402 Socio-cultural issues in tourism @ 30%
23 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 2303 International relations > 230302 International aid and development @ 40%
13 CULTURE AND SOCIETY > 1303 Ethics > 130304 Social ethics @ 30%
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