The Teenage Gaze: Teens and Tourism in Post-Conflict Belfast

Monday, 16 July 2018: 17:45
Oral Presentation
Madeleine LEONARD, Queen's University Belfast, United Kingdom
Childhood studies is increasingly seen as a multi/inter-disciplinary subject drawing on and contributing to debates in sociology, anthropology, psychology, geography and other ever growing disciplines. However, the contribution of childhood studies to tourism studies remains underdeveloped with children marred by their absence rather than their presence with Small (2008: 772) noting ‘ a review of the literature highlights that most of the research on age has been undertaken within a positivism paradigm with the emphasis on description rather than social understanding’. Hence, where children are included, it is often in a passive way as members of families going on holidays. While there is some reflection on children’s impact on adults’ decision making over location ((Wang et al, 2004: Nickerson and Jurowski, 2001), for the most part, the adult gaze dominates tourism research involving children and young people. The purpose of this paper is to address the absence of children in tourism studies by outlining a novel methodological approach concerning a case study of involving teenagers in tourism by enabling them to co-construct a tour of Belfast. The presentation first outlines the absence of children in tourism studies which is dominated by the adult gaze. This is followed by a review of the pivotal role of tour guides in leading the tourism experience and the subsequent neglect of the audience, particularly children and young people and their potential role as co-creators of tours. The case study involving teenagers in Belfast planning and organising a tour of the city is then introduced and the value of seeing the city through their eyes is evaluated.