Honoring the Work of John Urry


Advancing Cultural Complexity Theory, the Tourist Gaze, and the Consumption of Places, Special issue of Intl J Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Res; Deadline 15 Mar 2015

International Journal of Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research – Call for Papers:

Advancing Cultural Complexity Theory, the Tourist Gaze, and the Consumption of Places: Essays and Empirical Studies Honoring the Work of John Urry

Paper Submission Deadline: 15 March 2015

Measured by citation metrics, John Urry’s well-known studies in sociology represent the largest impact on the field of travel and tourism research by a single scholar. Urry’s publication and impact metrics include the following statistics: 600+ publications, 43,000+ citations, an h-index of 73; and an i-10 index of 180+. More importantly, his studies are lasting contributions to advancing theory in tourism and hospitality. Titles of his most impactful research include the following publications:

Urry’s (1992) tourist-gaze work explains that visual consumption is not a simple and straightforward process. “Views are not literally seen because tourism paradigmatically involves the collection of signs. When a small village is seen, what is captured through the gaze is a sight of the ‘real olde England’. When a man and a woman are seen embracing in Paris the sign that is captured is ‘timeless romantic Paris’ (Urry, 1992).

Urry’s (2005) advances in complexity theory are applicable to tourism and hospitality studies (e.g., Wu, et al. 2014). “Relationships between variables can be non-linear with abrupt switches occurring, so the same “cause” can, in specific circumstances, produce different effects” (Urry, 2005, p. 4). Urry (2005, p. 6) proposes, “The effects of humans are subtly and irreversibly woven into the very evolution of landscape. And any ecological system is immensely complex so that there are rarely obvious policies that simply restore nature’s balance, partly because of the significance of ‘critical thresholds’.”

Urry (1990) demonstrates convincingly that the consumption of tourist services is important yet by no means easy to understand and explain. The importance derives from the centrality of tourists’ activities in modern societies—the way in which “tourism” has been historically separated from other activities, such as shopping, sport, culture, architecture, and so on, is dissolving. The result of such a process is a “universalizing of the tourist gaze.” Paradoxically, most early-career tourism scholars do not appear to be aware of Urry’s profound influence in the field. Checking issues of the leading journals of tourism and hospitality (e.g., Annals of Tourism Research, International Journal of Hospitality Management, Journal of Travel Research, and Tourism Management) confirms this observation. The two aims of this IJCTHR special issue include advancing the knowledge of budding tourism and hospitality scholars regarding Urry’s contributions as well as advancing theory and empirical findings based on tenets flowing in his contributions.

Please submit your paper to all IJCTHR guest editors of this special issue in MS WORD format. The guest editors: Michael Hughes, Murdoch University (m.hughes@murdoch.edu.au), Caroline Scarles, University of Surrey (c.scarles@surrey.ac.uk) and Arch G. Woodside, Carroll School of Management, Boston College (arch.woodside@bc.edu).

Paper submission requirements: theoretical advances, essays and empirical (quantitative and/or qualitative) studies are acceptable; length: 4,000 to 8,000 words in total; double-spacing only; up-to-four tables and figures in total with placement after the reference pages; no footnotes and no endnotes in the paper; and use of present tense as much as possible. Graciously, John Urry has agreed to provide a commentary review of each of the papers appearing in this special issue. His commentary will appear in the same IJCTHR issue as the papers. A great opportunity to have the leading scholar of the field comment on your research!


Urry, J. (1990). The Consumption of Tourism. Sociology, 24, 23-35.

Urry, J. (1992). The tourist gaze and the ‘environment’. Theory Culture & Society, 9, 1-26.

Urry, J. (2005). The complexity turn. Theory Culture & Society, 22, 1-14.

Wu, P.-L., Yeh, S.-S., Cheng, T.C., & Woodside, A.G. (2014). Applying complexity theory to deepen service dominant logic: Configural analysis of customer experience-and-outcome assessments of professional services for personal transformations. Journal of Business Research 67 (2014), 1647–1670.