Performative Work in Tourism

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Abstract:

The aim of this study was to investigate the characteristics of performative work that aims to create experiences for visiting tourists. It reports on qualitative research conducted among frontline employees working in three tourist attractions on the island of Lolland in Denmark, namely Lalandia holiday centre, Knuthenborg Safari Park, and the Medieval Centre. Results show that despite the variety of performative work, which includes service work, professional presentation and enactment, all types have two common features. First, recognition from visitors is a key reward when undertaking performative work. For many workers, the performative aspect has contributed to their personal development, especially where self-control at work contributes to enhancing self-esteem. Second, performative work is also often vulnerable, involving various emotional strategies to cope with its challenges. While research traditions relating to performative and emotional labour provide the background, the analytical sections also apply theoretical approaches drawn from other fields, most notably theories on the working environment and recognition.

Keywords: Creative work; emotional work; performative work; recognition; service work; tourism

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15022250902978710

Affiliations: Space, Place, Mobility and Urban Studies (MOSPUS) Research Unit and Centre for Experience Research, Department of Environmental, Social and Spatial Change (ENSPAC), Roskilde University, Roskilde, Denmark

Publication date: December 1, 2009

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