Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type



Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Susan Roberts


In recent years there has been an increase in the adoption of tourism as an economic strategy in many developing nations and a growing interest in how communities and individuals engage with tourism. This parallels research which aims to uncover alternative readings of community participation in forms of economic and social development. This research uses tourism as a lens to understand the economic subjectivity of communities engaged in tourism. Focusing on how the local populations understand, experience and participate in tourism, it paints a picture of the Perhentian Islands which challenges existing understandings of individual and community participation in tourism. The research is broadly framed as a post-development project which highlights the grass-roots and bottom-up nature of small-scale developments and focuses on the ways in which local populations are actively engaged with tourism. It draws attention to the role played by discourse and subjectivity in constructing and reframing understandings of the individual within tourism development. Such discursive constructs can be actively co-opted as a political tool to empower individuals and communities by reconstructing understandings of local engagement in tourism. By recreating understandings of community engagement with tourism, it becomes possible to create new subjectivities outside of the framework of hegemonic capital.

The methodology for this project incorporated participatory action research methods in order to facilitate community benefit through the research process. Research techniques involved both quantitative and qualitative methods in a number of settings. Ethnographic methods involving participant observation and in-depth interviews were complemented with focus groups, and property surveys. Research focused on key themes which were areas of interest identified by community members as well as questions which explored individual motivations for tourism work. In this situation, a number of motivations for engagement with tourism employment emerged. The individuals were actively seeking their employment, rather than passively accepting tourism from a limited number of choices. There were also similarities between hosts and guests which emerged, challenging the usual binary construction.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.