Not losing our collective face: social identity and Chinese tourists' reflections on uncivilised behaviour

Carol X. Zhang, Philip Pearce, Ganghua Chen

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Abstract

The dramatic increase in the number of Chinese outbound tourists has sometimes generated negative media reports about their ‘uncivilised’ behaviour. The academic literature has only partially analysed such behaviour and its impacts on Chinese tourists in terms of their group identity. Building on the recognition of the interactive and interdependent nature of social identification, the study examines Chinese tourists' reflections on and responses to the negative image projected on them by others. Using historical resources, a conceptual appraisal of the concept of face informs the empirical work. The researchers conducted semi-structured in-depth interviews to explore ways in which educated Chinese tourists acknowledged and rationalised the prevalent ascribed negative images. The study found that the fear of ‘losing collective face’ prompts Chinese tourists to adopt and promote civilised behaviour. Practical implications derived from the findings include specifying promotional themes about face and advice for individuals and groups to monitor each other. Limitations and future research directions were also discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-82
Number of pages12
JournalTourism Management
Volume73
Early online date30 Jan 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019

Keywords

  • social identity
  • Chinese tourist behaviour
  • reflection
  • lian
  • mianzi
  • collective face

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