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Revisiting the theory and practice of the three-layer system of culture : an exploration of Chinese backpackers’ travel experiences in Europe.

Cai, Wenjie (2017) Revisiting the theory and practice of the three-layer system of culture : an exploration of Chinese backpackers’ travel experiences in Europe. Doctoral thesis, University of Surrey.

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This study initially aims to investigate Chinese outbound backpackers’ travel experiences through White (1949a)’s traditional system, which understands and classifies cultural theories into three layers (ideological, social and technological). However, this original system is too problematic to provide adequate explanations of the experiences of mobile individuals and their relations. Thus, beyond investigating Chinese backpackers’ experiences, this study adopts an abductive approach that systematically combines theoretical and empirical approaches to reconceptualise the three-layer system of culture, and proposes the ‘Fluid Networked System of Culture’ to provide a framework for understanding mobile individuals’ experiences. Theoretically, liquid modernity and the new mobilities paradigm create the theoretical constructs. Empirically, Chinese outbound backpackers’ experiences develop and complete the reconceptualisation process by providing ‘thick descriptions’ of their travel experiences in Europe. Online participant observation and three fieldwork trips through a mobile and virtual ethnographic approach were undertaken between June and November, 2014. Overall, three sets of comprehensive field notes, twenty semi-structured interviews, other supporting data (for example, reflexive notes, conversational interviews) were collected and analysed through thematic analysis. The findings show a complex and fluid picture of Chinese backpackers’ travel experiences. Regarding mobile social relations, the findings suggest that the Chinese value of harmony plays a predominant role in backpacker group dynamics, which directly influence their travel experiences. While in terms of ideologies, multiple conflicting streams of values were identified in their perceptions and identities. In addition, multiple affording roles of materials and technologies were recognised in the Chinese backpackers’ practice. This thesis then abductively proposes the ‘Fluid Networked System of Culture’ as the outcome of this reconceptualisation through the theoretical framing and empirical comprehension. The Fluid Networked System of Culture provides a comprehensive framework to explore issues in and beyond tourism.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects : Tourism
Divisions : Theses
Authors :
Cai, Wenjie
Date : 28 February 2017
Funders : -
Contributors :
Depositing User : Wenjie Cai
Date Deposited : 09 Mar 2017 10:41
Last Modified : 09 Nov 2018 16:40

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