Paradoxes of Consumer Independence: A Critical Discourse Analysis of the Independent Traveler

Marketing Theory, Vol. 8, No. 3, 2008

Posted: 14 Sep 2010

See all articles by James Fitchett

James Fitchett

Nottingham University Business School; University of Leicester - School of Management

Robert Caruana

University of Manchester - Manchester Business School

Andrew Crane

University of Bath - School of Management

Date Written: September 2008

Abstract

The ideology of independence lies at the very core of the marketing agenda. For the free market to operate as a legitimate means of social organization, the right to be independent and to be free to enact ostensibly independent choices is to all intents and purposes sacred. Independence is an especially critical concept for marketing academics and practitioners to understand given the need to reconcile consumer demand for a sense of individuality, freedom and self, with an organization’s need to commodify consumption activities in order to realize market growth. This paper examines the ways in which a sense of independence is successfully offered to consumers within paradoxically mass-market communications. The study investigates what it means to be an independent traveller by implementing a critical discourse analysis of alternative guidebooks. Findings suggest that guidebooks construct independence by reifying inaccessibility, interpreting value, and constructing inauthenticity for consumers. This promulgates a powerful myth of the independent traveler as someone who defies inaccessibility, hunts for bargains, and avoids inauthenticity. Crucially, each of these cultural practices also acts to engender an implicit relation of dependency between the text and the tourist that is found to contradict, but ultimately not threaten, the whole notion of independence that the consumption experience itself is predicated on.

Keywords: commodity, critical discourse analysis, guidebook, independence

Suggested Citation

Fitchett, James and Caruana, Robert and Crane, Andrew, Paradoxes of Consumer Independence: A Critical Discourse Analysis of the Independent Traveler (September 2008). Marketing Theory, Vol. 8, No. 3, 2008. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1676425

James Fitchett

Nottingham University Business School ( email )

Jubilee Campus
Wollaton Road
Nottingham, NG8 1BB
United Kingdom

University of Leicester - School of Management ( email )

Leicester
Leicester, AK LE1 4AY
United Kingdom

Robert Caruana

University of Manchester - Manchester Business School ( email )

The University of Manchester
Manchester, M15 6PB

Andrew Crane (Contact Author)

University of Bath - School of Management ( email )

Claverton Down
Bath, BA2 7AY
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.bath.ac.uk/management/faculty/andrew-crane.html

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