Conspicuous Souvenirs: Analysing touristic self-presentation through souvenir display

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Holiday travel offers the opportunity for self-definition and enhancement of social prestige. Due to the growing importance of self-expressive values within the ongoing course of individualisation, tourists increasingly make use of their travel experience to self-present in a positive way. Yet, tourism studies have not investigated what tourists actually want to communicate about themselves when representing their travel experience through the display of souvenirs. Using semi-structured qualitative interviews, this study examines touristic self-expression and exposes the self-concepts attached to and communicated through the display of souvenirs as material symbols of travel experience. Results show that tourists often have a clear intention to express positive self-messages when showing their souvenirs to others. Souvenirs are used to represent personal character traits, social affiliation to in-groups and neo-tribes, and to demonstrate individual travel history. This article adds to the discussion of individual ascription of meaning to the tourist experience and souvenirs, and gives an insight to the function of souvenirs for self- expression and social exchange.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTourist Studies
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)485-504
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 12.2020

    Research areas

  • Business psychology - holiday travel, prestige, self-presentation, social exchange, sourvenirs, tourism