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"They are people just like us:" Examining the constructs of Durkheim's emotional solidarity framework among residents of Beaufort County, South Carolina. March 24, 2009. Traditional resident-tourist relationship. Financial exchanges (Wall & Mathieson 2006) Superficial (Mason 2008)

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march 24 2009

"They are people just like us:" Examining the constructs of Durkheim's emotional solidarity framework among residents of Beaufort County, South Carolina

March 24, 2009

traditional resident tourist relationship
Traditional resident-tourist relationship
  • Financial exchanges (Wall & Mathieson 2006)
  • Superficial (Mason 2008)
  • ‘Self’ versus ‘other’ (Urry 2002)
  • Discounts common ground and intimacy between each
transcending traditional views
Transcending traditional views
  • Calls for examination of emotional relationship (Wearing & Wearing 2001)
  • Durkheim’s (1995[1915]) framework of emotional solidarity
    • Definition
    • History
    • Constructs in

tourism context

Shared Beliefs



Shared Behavior


purpose of study
Purpose of study
  • To develop themes corresponding to each of the four constructs in Durkheim’s model from focus group qualitative data among permanent residents of Beaufort County, South Carolina
study site context
Study site context
  • Beaufort County (population: 142,045)
    • Beaufort, Bluffton, & Hilton Head
    • Rich in natural and cultural tourism opportunities as well as family vacation destination
    • Festivals and special events all year; ranks 3rd in SC in domestic travel expenditures; tourism largest employer
  • Why selected?
    • Divergent perspectives; high degree of new residents; large percentage of retirees; fastest growing area in state
research methods
Research methods
  • Data collection
    • Criterion sampling with gatekeepers
    • Focus group in each three cities (April/May 2007) (2 hours)
    • Incentives
    • Moderator and assistant moderator
    • Semi-structured interview script
  • Data analysis
    • Conceptual content analysis (Busch, DeMaret, & Flynn 2009)
    • IRR 83.1% agreement between coders
findings shared beliefs
Findings: Shared beliefs
  • Appreciation for history

and natural beauty

I find the common belief in the history and preservation of the island. Many of our visitors who take our tour and talking about the past and conservation district that this island once was—you both yearn for half-way back, wishing we could just be somewhere in-between where we are now and where we were then. There are things we should have saved and we didn’t. History is very important to many of our tourists. It is important to us (Lifelong resident [M]on HHI who own kayaking tour company).

They [tourists] marvel at the beauty of it, especially where I work at the visitors’ center—they stare out at the marsh and say, ‘aaahhh.’ They cannot believe that it is so pristine. They are just shocked by it and are able to enjoy it as much as possible(Bluffton resident [F] who works part time at the HHI visitor center; recently moved to the area).

  • Sharing similar value system
  • Belief in uniqueness of the place
  • Belief that county has wealth of

eateries and local shops

findings shared behavior
Findings: Shared behavior
  • Attending festivals/special events

‘Third Friday’ has been a big promotion of the area. Every third Friday they block off Calhoun Street [in Bluffton], have vendors, musicians, and performers and it allows people to interact with the local community (A retired businessman [M] from Delaware who has lived in Bluffton for 5 years).

  • Visiting cultural-historic sites
  • Engaging in beach activities
  • Participating in outdoor recreation activities
  • Shopping at local stores
  • Attending church
  • Dining out
findings interaction
Findings: Interaction
  • Where and when
    • Local businesses (retail stores, restaurants, and grocery stores)
    • Public locations (sidewalks, streets, and roads)

I often encounter tourists at the toll booth. I keep a stash of quarters for those who either realize they had to have correct change or they are not sure where they are going (Homemaker [F]from HHI who has lived on-island for 20 years).

  • Degree of intimacy
    • Superficial to long-term personal friendships

There is a friendship that develops, and when people have been visiting and seeing you for 3, 4, or 5 years, you quickly become old friends. I’ve even gone to visit a couple where they live (Lifelong resident [M]in Beaufort who owns a real estate company).

findings emotional solidarity
Findings: Emotional solidarity
  • Empathy

I try to remind people all the time when they start complaining about the tourists. I say, ‘we were all…most of us were all tourists at one time. So we should be very careful about how critical we are of tourists and have a little bit more empathy for people out there’ (Retired engineer [M] from Michigan living on HHI for 15 years).

  • Embracement

Whenever I do feel frustration towards a tourist who may not know where they are going or may not be sure where they are going or whatever…I think back to whenever we first moved here or when I am a visitor in another town (Middle aged homemaker [F] from Bluffton).

  • Enjoyment

When I walk or exercise in the historic area, quite often I see primarily senior citizens taking the horse-drawn tour or even taking the walking tour and I personally enjoy seeing them because they are so laid back and relaxed(Retired schoolteacher [F] living in Beaufort; recently relocated).

  • Pride
  • Gratefulness and economic appreciation
  • Residents thinking outside ‘self’; understanding what its like to be tourist
    • Mitigate negative perceptions of tourism impacts
  • Concern for resources bind resident and tourist
    • Not just residents
  • Resident and tourist engage in similar ‘tourist’ activities (beach and outdoor rec activities), yet shopping mentioned minimally
    • Function of location
  • Practical
    • Utilization of locals in promotional material
      • “Come to my Beaufort County”
      • Pigeon Forge, TN
    • Better sense of what to promote to residents and tourists based on commonalities
  • Theoretical
    • Scale development (reliability and validity)
    • Model testing
    • Emotional solidarity from tourists perspective