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Joelle MH Soulard Title : Transformative Travel Experiences and Social Justice

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10:30 AM, Dimanche 20 Juin 2021 (30 minutes)
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Transformative Travel Experiences and Social Justice


Joelle MH Soulard

This paper aligns with the conference's thematic area of the Interaction of justice and tourism daily life. We investigate what actions are taken by transformative travelers in their daily lives to address justice issues resulting from their trip. Transformative travel experiences are deeply meaningful lived experiences where travelers face challenges during their trip, self-reflect, become more accepting of different worldviews, and confront justice issues in their community[1]. While the objectives of transformative experiences are well established in the literature, further studies are needed to understand the connection between inner and social transformations in transformative travelers[2]. Our research team relies on a hermeneutic phenomenological approach to qualitative inquiry inscribed within an interpretative paradigm. We ontologically recognize that multiple realities coexist within social, historical, economic, ecological, and political contexts[3]. To acknowledge the impact of those contexts, our research team engaged in group discussions to understand how our past experiences impact our choice of theoretical lenses and methodological perspectives [4]. We followed an adapted memory-work approach where transformative travelers freely share their testimonies [5, 6]. To reinforce validity, we implemented an investigator triangulation in which the principal researcher coded the data[7]. A second researcher reviewed the codebook, and discussions followed on the emerging codes and themes[5]. The transformative travelers shared their testimonies through an open-ended survey questionnaire, which asked them to Please describe your life-changing or transformative trip and explain why you find it transformative?. A total of 1,139 informants participated by sharing their lived experience in an essay box between December 2018 and January 2019. Data analysis follows the approach outlined by Bailey (2007), starting with open coding (emerging codes are identified and assigned to textual elements), followed by axial coding (codes are regrouped under themes), and data consolidation (a narrative is developed)[8]. We enhanced trustworthiness by following the principles of transferability (thick descriptions), credibility (peer debriefing), dependability (audit trail), and confirmability (reflexivity)[9]. Through their testimonies, the transformative travelers reveal a spectrum of transformation from failed introspection to active social engagement. For those transformative travelers who experience social behavior changes, three themes emerge in which they: 1) redefine their life path (snapshot quote: "Immersing myself in that culture and seeing the push to decide what is Spanish and Catalan, inspired me to be an anthropology major so that I could study more cultures," Female, 35, travel to Barcelona) 2) embrace anti-consumerism (snapshot quote: "Now, we seek the simpler things in life, and have pared down our belongings, and realize that we don't need expensive things" Female, 45, travel to Cuba), 3) become champions for social justice (snapshot quote: "Since then, I have donated thousands of hours to help Habitat for Humanity in multiple states and made financial contributions as well. I would say that I see Habitat in the same way that zealots see their religion. I am absolutely fanatical," Male, 33, travel to New Orleans). The findings provide crucial understandings about how transformed travelers impact the community they lived in and become advocates for change.


1. Soulard, J., N.G. McGehee, and M. Stern, Transformative tourism organizations and glocalization. Annals of Tourism Research, 2019. 76: p. 91-104.

2. Sheldon, P.J., Designing tourism experiences for inner transformation. Annals of Tourism Research, 2020. 83: p. 102935.

3. Marshall, C. and G. Rossman, Designing qualitative research. 2016: Sage publications.

4. Creswell, J.W., 30 essential skills for the qualitative researcher. 2016: Sage Publications.

5. Stone, M.J., et al., Elements of memorable food, drink, and culinary tourism experiences. Journal of Travel Research, 2017: p. 0047287517729758.

6. Small, J., Memory-work: A method for researching women’s tourist experiences. Tourism management, 1999. 20(1): p. 25-35.

7. Decrop, A., Triangulation in qualitative tourism research. Tourism management, 1999. 20(1): p. 157-161.

8. Bailey, C.A., A guide to qualitative field research. 2007: Sage Publications.

9. Lincoln, Y.S. and E.G. Egon, Lincoln, Yvonna S., and Egan G. Egon," Paradigmatic Controversies, Contradictions, and Emerging Confluences," pp. 163-188 in Norman K. Denzin and Yvonna S. Lincoln, eds.,

Joelle Soulard


Personnes inscrites

Petra Johansson
Operational manager and artistic leader
Art Inside Out, an artistic residency program in the western parts of Sweden

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