Ethics and Tourism: In dialogue with Dean MacCannell

José Luis López González


For several decades, tourism has mainly been identified as an activity that helps people escape their everyday routines, contributes to understanding between cultures, and promotes economic wellbeing. These assumptions have been questioned in both the public sphere and academic research, however. In this context, tourism research is increasingly drawing on ethical frameworks to support its criticism of tourism. Some of the most outstanding research on this issue is by Dean MacCannell, Emeritus Professor at the University of California at Davis and author of one of the seminal works of the social theory of tourism: The Tourist: A New Theory of the Leisure Class (1976). MacCannell examines the moral and ethical aspects of tourism in all his writing, but they are the focal point of his book The Ethics of Sightseeing (2011), in which he identifies the tourists’ responsibility to mediate between their understanding of their own pleasure and the ethical repercussions of the late modern imperative, “Enjoy!”. During the Touriscape congress in Malaga, Spain, in February 2018, MacCannell talked about ethics and tourism with José Luis López, who prepared this interview for Recerca.

Palabras clave

ethics, tourism, MacCannell, sightseeing

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