Pilgrim or Tourist? Modelling Two Types of Travel Bloggers

Tom van Nuenen, Suzanne van der Beek


The typological distinction between pilgrims and tourists has often been drawn in tourism studies. This article aims at complementing this debate by applying computational techniques to analyse discourses in a corpus of blogs from the Dutch travel blog repository of waarbenjij.nu. The hypothesis is that pilgrims and tourists share notable similarities in their identity narratives. Several unsupervised computational methods are leveraged to analyse the corpora; they provide a cue for further interpretation, which relies on a directed close reading of indicated keywords. The analysis shows that pilgrims, instead of writing about sacred topics, focus on the same practical topics that tourists are invested in. Conversely, tourists show a notable sensibility to a range of highly valued, set apart experiences. The paper ends with the proposal for a new continuum to understand the distinction between pilgrims andtourists, based on the difference between condensed diversity and extended engagement.


pilgrim, tourist, identity, computational methods, topic modelling

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17885/heiup.rel.2016.0.23631

URN (PDF): http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:bsz:16-heiup-rel-236313