Cultural Capital in Place-Making

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Journal of Hospitality & Tourism (2322 0198) Innovative fieldwork research in cultural tourism is presented which is based around a detective novel set in a seaside town in France. The participants completed autoethnographic writing to provide insight into the active processes of value creation, experience creation, place-making and identity formation. The original research proposes a theory for the way that the literary language in the cultural artefact, in this case the realist novel, activates the tourist's cultural capital and thus affects behaviours. A new theoretical term is proposed, the toureme. The theory has applicability in other towns where novels are set and hence is useful for place-making. Further, the research aims to provide re-usable tools for cultural development particularly in the emerging field of archaeological topophonics currently being piloted by the author.
Journal of Hospitality & Tourism ISSN 0972-7787 print 2322-0198 online
June 2018
Cultural Capital in Place-Making
Dr Charlie Mansfield ORCID
University of Plymouth, UK
toureme, cultural capital, literary tourism
Innovative fieldwork research in cultural tourism is presented which is based around a detective
novel set in a seaside town in France. The participants completed autoethnographic writing to
provide insight into the active processes of value creation, experience creation, place-making and
identity formation. The original research proposes a theory for the way that the literary language in
the cultural artefact, in this case the realist novel, activates the tourist's cultural capital and thus
affects behaviours. A new theoretical term is proposed, the toureme. The theory has applicability in
other towns where novels are set and hence is useful for place-making. Further, the research aims to
provide re-usable tools for cultural development particularly in the emerging field of archaeological
topophonics currently being piloted by the author.
Grateful thanks go to the Department of Tourism & Hospitality with Modern Languages at
Plymouth University for initial funding for the fieldwork. Thanks also to the EU's ERASMUS
mobility scheme for academics who teach in Higher Education and the Centre de Recherche en
Éducation de Nantes (CREN) in the Université de Nantes's UFR des Lettres et Langages.
Unlocking Concarneau's heritage image
Concarneau’s municipal web-site paints a picture of a seaside town focussing on its historical
heritage of sardine canning and tuna fishing. No literary connections are made. Only one
stakeholder's web-site, the Hôtel Grands Voyageurs offers any literary history; in their case a brief
mention of the stay in Concarneau made by Gustave Flaubert in 1847 (Grands Voyageurs 2014).
However, Georges Simenon, the author of the Maigret detective novels stayed in the town and set
two of his novels here. The novel explored here is his Maigret police fiction, The Yellow Dog, re-
issued in 2014 in the UK. The built heritage in the French town of Concarneau mentioned in the
Maigret novel is easy to access. For example, the ruin of the granite fort out at Cabellou Point is
free to enter, has an interpretation panel and is secure for the public to visit safely. Whilst no
mention of Maigret is made on the interpretation panel, the good condition and accessibility of the
monument make it ideal for the literary visitor and cultural tourist. The town is home to five
bookshops, unusual for a community with a population of just 21 000. Two of the case participants
(Will 2014) and (Glen 2014) note that in only one bookshop is there any trace of Simenon's novel,
copies of the French paperback version are displayed. Neither the tourist information office nor the
heritage centre display or sell The Yellow Dog. No souvenirs associated with the novel are on sale.
This small seaside town in the west of Brittany provides a research opportunity for investigating
ways of unlocking the intangible cultural heritage in urban spaces accessible to visitors and local
citizens alike. The field research laboratory at Plymouth University: Journey, Place, Narrative aims
to bridge the gap between purely theoretical knowledge by developing practical tools for the
creation of cultural artefacts or by providing access to intangible cultural heritage.
Methodology of the case study
Using approaches from Caughey (2006) to uncover consumers' imaginative practices this study was
designed around the reading of the novel, The Yellow Dog and culminated in two researcher-led
field visits to the town of Concarneau. A more engaged relationship between the project and the 6
respondents was required to maintain commitment over a six-month period. To solve this
engagement issue, a new methodology was introduced, called participant autoethnography,
suggested in earlier research by Coghlan & Filo (2013) and by Ren, Pritchard & Morgan (2010).
The study uses a practice that Coghlan & Filo (2013) call constant comparison method. Their
practice of autoethnography, is closely linked to grounded theory, see also Tavory & Timmermans
(2009). This is a suitable starting point for this participant study since the research has three key
questions themed around value, pleasure, knowledge and self-identity but aims to build a more
general theory of motivations for tourism based on the visitors' cultural capital.
By re-casting the respondents as case participants, and providing training in conducting and writing
autoethnographic accounts, it was anticipated that greater motivation, rich data productivity and a
longer period of commitment to the work could be achieved. Coghlan and Filo (2013) in tourism
research re-use autoethnographic writing by Coghlan as data to understand the imaginative
experiences of tourists. Their work is quite recent in tourism research and explains why in the two
larger literary tourism studies, Watson (2006) and Ridanpää (2011), these methods are not explicitly
named. Watson (2006) and Ridanpää (2011) use their own field observations and reflect on their
own imaginative experiences at the sites that they visit but without acknowledging that this is a
reproducible and verifiable process of data collection and analysis. Thanks to the work of Coghlan
and Filo (2013) a method is available which separates the self-reflection into autoethnographic
writing and then uses that document in a second step as data. This comprises formal preparatory
training in autoethnographic writing and in travel writing practices and a structuring of the
recording process by the case participants into (a) a reading diary and (b) a travel diary. This
process draws on the Sheffield study into reading imaginative literature (Usherwood & Toyne
2002). To analyse the written data thus produced, grounded theory was used, as described by
Charmaz (2006), with open coding to move forward the theorisation from initial themes, after the
work of Busby & Meethan (2008) and Busby & Laviolette (2006) on Visitor Books. Charmaz'
(2006) well-documented method aims to produce new theory and, as such, lends itself to research
where innovative theoretical constructs are paramount.
As the above themes show, the research method used here aims to take further the earlier approach
of Busby, Korstanje & Mansfield (2011) which looks at the potential for literary tourism that may
be revealed by a close reading of novels set urban spaces, by adding sociological approaches to the
study and focussing on the reader's self-narration. The findings are presented here under six
headings which evolved from the coding and memo-writing processes using the participants’
testimonies as data.
Analysis of the findings
Being called into the literary text
Catherine Belsey (2002) uses Althusser's concept of interpellation (Althusser 1971) and her
understanding of Lacan to develop the proposition that readers of fiction are hailed by the literary
text (Belsey 2002). The reader is called in, to 'work by themselves in the social formation' (Belsey
2002, 67) that is being constructed by the novel and in the society that has produced the discursive
practice of the realist novel. In the analysis of participant case data in these research findings
Belsey's conception of interpellation, forms a starting point to consider how the detective novel
addresses its readers and in doing so places them in particular spatial positions. This section
presents how the 6 case participants have approached the book and the town; it shows how they
have become implicated in the narrative and carried this forward into their activities and enjoyment
of the holiday town. Anonymised first names are used to distinguish the participants. Specific
paragraphs from their handwritten notes are referenced as stanzas, st., following the practice of
narrative analysis.
In the opening paragraph of the text written by case participant 1, Adam, a comment is made which
simultaneously situates this participant and provides a starting point for extending the theorisation
by Belsey and thus contributes new knowledge, from this study, to the literary concept of
interpellation (Belsey 2002):
A map with the location of the city would be useful to provide the readers with reference point.
From the field diary of Adam 2014
Adam immediately implicates himself in the work of fiction by his call for a map to locate the real
place, Concarneau. The gap between fiction, the creative work of Simenon and the reality of a
French seaside resort is not even questioned, the participant assumes that the novel is about a place
that has been mapped and that he or subsequent visitors will find their way around that real place.
Indeed, case participant Glen underlines this same link between the fiction of the novel and the real
place when he wonders 'if that is the correct location from memory' (Glen 2014, E5, 1), from his
earlier reading of the novel, and not from a previous visit to the town. What is at work here, this
research proposes, goes further than the theoretical position that Belsey had reached, that is, that not
only is the subject constituted by the literary language (Belsey 2002) but that the reader as subject is
placed in physical locations by this language, too. Since a hailing process is taking place (Althusser
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