The development of an ongoing research agenda: contemporary soft power representations of China in tourism
East and West understanding
Subject Categories::N840 International Tourism
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AbstractSince the late 1980s, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has taken dedicated steps to open itself to the wider world. It has not only adopted practices which encourage many foreigners to visit China, but it has also adopted practices which encourage Chinese citizens to travel overseas, following the guarded decades of the earlier twentieth century. Over the last two decades, the concept of soft power, coined by U.S. political analyst Joseph Nye, has won currency in China as a major means by which the PRC has revealed preferred versions of itself to not only those from afar but also to its indigenous population. This study inspects the role of soft power in tourism and positions 'tourism' as a paramount mechanism by which authorities in China use the value of tourism to communication selected visions of Chinese life, events and places. It seeks to examine what becomes represented from Chinese inheritances and what becomes adopted as a soft power resource to constitute dominant regimes of representation. In an effort to probe the manner by which the nation of China denotates this or that about 'China' in comparison to the manner by which the city of Xi'an --- the former capital of China --- denotates this or that about 'Xi'an'. Attention is thereby frequently turned to Confucian/Neo-Confucian understandings, since many observers of representational paradigms see significant parallels in what political-strategists propose about soft power today and what the ancient philosopher (Kongfuzi = Confucius) advises about state ideology, imperial ritual and exemplary rule. To these ends, this study is focuses on the production of meaning through language, discourse and image. Constituting an interpretive rather than empirical study, it constitutes an exploratory investigation of acts of significnce at national and old-ancient-city levels. The study does not seek to make immediate and full conclusions on these projective practices, it isbased upon a single year's inspection, based distantly in England and examines the representational ground in order to set up an ongoing and more substantive study of these national/local acts of representational denotation from 2018 onwards, once this preliminary investigation has been completed at its European base. Thus, this study is accorded with an auxiliary study objectives which directs the researcher towards a richer and more informed in situ examination of institutional agency in harnessing the culture-historic inheritances and the contemporary-lifeways at the national level in China vis-a-vis the old (but still vibrant) capital city level. Many readers might thus quibble that in such an exploratory investigation, the said 'auxiliary study objectives' should indeed be labelled as 'the main study aim'. This inquiry does not consequently seek to generate heaps of unbaked findings, it seeks to clear the path for a 5 year research agenda conducted on the ground in China (and Xi'an) itself (themselves), viz., a 2019-2024 study that can harness the five year national plan activities due to be released in October 2018 by President Xi Jinping in some form of Chinese Dream fashion.
CitationWang, S. (2018) 'The Development of an Ongoing Research Agenda: Contemporary Soft Power Representations of China In Tourism'. PhD thesis. University of Bedfordshire.
PublisherUniversity of Bedfordshire
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted to the University of Bedfordshire, in partial fulfilment of the requirement for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy
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