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TURKISH BATHS: MEANING RECONSTRUCTED AND REFILLED BY MODERN AND POSTMODERN CONSUMPTION

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Turkish baths, originally known as hamam, were an indispensable part of everyday life in the Ottoman Empire. They served not only for personal cleanliness but as places for relaxing and as a forum for social gatherings.

After the foundation of the Republic 1923 and the accompanying social shifts, Turks began to turn away from traditional lifestyles towards a life that was distinctively modern ie; westernized, secular. In modernizing Turkey hamam culture started to lose its traditional value besides, home technology and privatized values brought baths to homes and kept Turkish people away from hamams.

With the globalization of mass tourism, consumption of Turkish heritage was popularized and the social value of the hamam, evacuated by modernization, was refilled with contemporary values as a heritage experience. Hamams gained new and different context in foreign markets and this development encouraged local consumers to reconsider hamams as fashionable. But the context of hamam is not cleaning anymore; it is a luxurious, glamorous leisure time activity for high class consumers in Turkey. These changes in context are not the result of trying to protect the traditional values but again imitating the Western consumers who show interest to authenticity and ethnicity again.

This research investigates differences in preferences and understandings of hamam between modernity and postmodernity and how global tourism helps refill the meanings of hamams. We conduct in-depth interviews with Turkish consumers and visitors, which combined with archive and media research, trace the development of hamam culture in modernizing and postmodern contexts.
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Keywords: Consumer Behaviour; Heritage tourism; Modernism; Postmodernism; Turkish bath

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2010

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  • The International Journal of Management Cases (IJMC) developed in 2002 from its predecessor The Journal of Management Cases, and present case studies across a broad range of management disciplines. The IJMC is the official journal of the CIRCLE Research Centre. CIRCLE (Centre for International Research Consumers, Locations and their Environments) is a virtual research group spreading over 70 universities.
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