Politics as a Vacation: Tourist Practices and the Building of the Nation-State

Gregory Fayard*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


Recent shifts in political sociology have moved away from reification of the state to focus more on symbolic and everyday sociocultural perceptions of political units. Yet the launching points for most research has been state-led programs. To remedy this gap, this paper takes a relatively non-political activity, domestic tourism, and builds a theoretical model of how the circulation of tourist bodies provides legitimation for the material, symbolic, and territorial projects of the nation-state. Using qualitative content analysis of online travel diaries for domestic vacations taken in China from 2006–2019, I find that travel practices are integral to perceptions of and bodily engagement with the geography, history, ethno-culture, and modernization projects of the nation-state. I argue that tourist practices naturalize and confirm knowledge and classifications about the nation-state, making abstract political conceptions into experiential realities.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberspac004
Number of pages17
JournalSocial Problems
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Feb 2022

User-Defined Keywords

  • political sociology
  • China
  • domestic tourism
  • nation-state
  • territory


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