Det extraordinäras lockelse: Luffarturistens bilder och upplevelser

Translated title of the contribution: The Attraction of the Extraordinary: Images and Experiences Among Backpacker Tourists

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


This dissertation, The Attraction of the Extraordinary - Images and Experiences Among Backpacker Tourists, is a study based on informal interviews with predominantly Swedish independent travellers, as well as observations and documentary analysis of the backpacker subculture. Backpacking is a type of tourism which has been gradually institutionalized. Through the institutionalization of the backpacker culture, social norms and typifications are crystallized and an image of the ideal trip is constructed, embracing experiences of adventure and participation in local cultures. Implicit in these qualities are the search for "the authentic" (in an existential as well as an essential sense). The "pure and unspoiled" is one aspect of authenticity, which seems to have a mythical, undisputed, quality. It is suggested that this mythical quality is maintained through the ritual, playful, nature of the tourist trip. However, the backpacker´s search for the ideal travel experience is continually frustrated through the institutionalization and commodification of this type of tourism. Such conditions are the points of departure of the analysis. The classical works of Georg Simmel have been a main theoretical source of inspiration.

The trip is described and analysed as an extraordinary life sphere, continually contrasted to the traveller´s ordinary home-bound life. The main purpose of the study is to analyse how, in their talk and actions, the travellers reproduce this dichotomy. By this contrasting activity, a distance to the extraordinary sphere is maintained, even though, paradoxically, the travellers seek to overcome the distance through their quest for authentic experiences. The contradictory conditions of the traveller are analysed in three contrasting pairs of terms: the "Planned unexpectedness", the "Attraction of hardship" and "Intimacy at a distance". Another purpose of the study is to analyse how the image of the extraordinary - with the quest for authenticity as an example - is socially constructed. A specific type of social interaction - the triad - is analysed, consisting of "the traveller", "the 'other' tourists" and "the locals". The symbolic value of money, as an important means in the interaction of the triad, is discussed.

The role of photography is analysed as an other important means for the traveller to frame the extraordinary sphere. The framing occurs on two levels: in the situation where the traveller takes the photograph, and when showing the photos back home, when the trip is over. Another way for the traveller to reproduce the dichotomy analysed in this study, is the collector´s attitude. The traveller´s search for new and unique experiences is encouraged by other travellers - often within a competitive framework - as well as within a larger social framework.
Translated title of the contributionThe Attraction of the Extraordinary: Images and Experiences Among Backpacker Tourists
Original languageSwedish
Awarding Institution
  • Sociology
  • [unknown], [unknown], Supervisor, External person
Award date1999 Dec 17
ISBN (Print)917924128X
Publication statusPublished - 1999

Bibliographical note

Defence details
Date: 1999-12-17
Time: 10:15
Place: Carolinasalen, Lund
External reviewer(s)
Name: Franzén, Mats
Title: Docent
Affiliation: Institute for Housing Research, Gävle

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)

Free keywords

  • Sociology
  • collecting
  • backpacker culture
  • extraordinary sphere
  • authenticity
  • photography
  • money


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