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Don't forget to ask a blessing from the monk: A corpus-assisted multimodal discourse analysis of the representation of hosts in user-generated digital tourism discourse about Bangkok

Research output: Contribution to conference - Without ISBN/ISSN Posterpeer-review

Publication date27/08/2022
<mark>Original language</mark>English
EventCADS Conf 2022 - 6th Corpora & Discourse International Conference - Bertinoro, Italy
Duration: 26/08/202228/08/2022


ConferenceCADS Conf 2022 - 6th Corpora & Discourse International Conference
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In this paper, I analyse how hosts are represented in different modes of Tripadvisor travel reviews about Bangkok.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound effect on tourism. However, it has also provided an opportunity for tourism industry participants to reconsider the problematic aspects of tourism discourse. One of the aspects critically discussed by researchers is the representation of hosts in tourism discourse. In particular, in promotional materials and TV programs, hosts tend to be excluded, represented as servants, cultural markers or a part of the scenery. Such representation might contribute to the maintenance of client-servant attitude and even lead to discrimination against hosts. However, my earlier research demonstrates that user-generated tourism discourse, such as online travel reviews, can express resistance to the dominant institutional imagery. Moreover, although there is a lack of studies providing a direct systematic comparison, previous research indicates that there can be differences in the representation of hosts in tourism discourse about destinations with different socio-cultural backgrounds (Thurlow, Jaworski, & Ylänne-McEwen, 2005).
Online travel reviews have become an essential part of the tourism discourse. But their multimodal nature makes it problematic to conduct a systematic analysis of larger data sets. In the study, I considered such modes as the title, text, image and image caption. To identify common topics in the representation of hosts within each mode and across the modes of 300 TripAdvisor reviews, I applied a corpus-assisted multimodal discourse analysis (Bednarek & Caple, 2017). I analysed the verbal modes, namely, title, text and caption, utilising a theoretical framework based on van Leeuwen’s (2008) social actor network. For the visual analysis of the image mode, I adapted the framework for multimodal critical discourse analysis proposed by Machin and Mayr (2012). Due to the combination of the two frameworks, I was able to identify patterns in the representation within each mode and compare the representation across different modes.
The results are in line with my previous findings that user-generated tourism discourse can not only reproduce the representations conveyed by promotional and media tourism discourse but also express resistance to the discourse of inferiority of hosts and contribute to shaping more balanced power relations between guests and hosts. The study also reveals several topics specific to the socio-cultural background of Bangkok, such as the titulation of hosts, the portrayal of host trainers as mentors and friends, the representation of monks as a tourist attraction and the generic representation of Thai artists.
The study concludes that the representation of hosts in user-generated digital tourism discourse can reflect the socio-cultural background of a travel destination.