9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN05 Sociology of Consumption

2009-09-05 09:00:00 2009-09-05 10:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 09:00 - 10:30 Consumption and Families Building II, C5.01

The Mcdonaldization of Tourism. An inquiry into the tendency of young people to choose "rationalized" vacation environments

The World Tourism Organization defines tourists as people who "travel to and stay in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes not related to the exercise of an activity remunerated from within the place visited".
Tourism has always been seen as a major opportunity for people to get in touch with different cultures and habits. This is much more important for young people since it can be considered a very important part of their education, a way to enlarge the horizons.
Many authors noticed the relationship between Rationalization theory and the tourism sector.
This research investigates how young Italian tourists attitudes and practices relate to their choice for vacation destinations, in order to understand the reasons why, in many cases, they tend to prefer rationalized environment. On the one hand these places enable them to relax themselves, to have fun, to enjoy wonderful beaches and mountains, to act in a safe and predictable environment. On the other hand this package vacations tend to reduce their chances to experience the real nature of a different place.
This paper refers to Ritzer's McDonaldization of Society thesis, Beck's Theory of Risk Society and Baudrillard's Simulation Theory.
Our aim is to understand why many young Italian university-educated tourists are more likely to spend their vacation time in a sort of Non-Place instead of choosing other forms of tourism.
A qualitative exploration of consumer attitudes carried out with 4 focus group interview sessions held with students attending IULM University in Milan (48 subjects) assesses their personal attitudes and practices with regard to vacation choice.
By focusing on their vacation preferences, this research results form the basis to better understand young people behavior referring to rationalized environments.