Dissertation Abstracts

The Influence of Digital ICT on Perception of Place: A Qualitative Research from a Tourism Perspective

Author: Xiaojian Zheng, zhengxiaojian1203@gmail.com
Department: School of Political Science and Sociology
University: University of Galway, Ireland
Supervisor: Dr. Mike Hynes
Year of completion: In progress
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: digital sociology , digital inequality , place , sense of place
Areas of Research: Science and Technology , Communication, Knowledge and Culture , Tourism


Place is a space or location with specific personal meaning for us, and which shapes our identity and distinguishes the self from others. But the ubiquitous nature of digital information and communication technologies (ICTs) has transformed how we perceive place and enormous amounts of information on towns and cities can now be accessed online. The creation of this content deserves closer attention: who creates this content, how is it created, and in whose interest is it created? The online representations of place have the potential to harm moves towards sustainability, threaten cultural diversity, and exacerbate social inequalities because the online content produced does not equally represent all social groups and what is consumed may well represent the interests of certain people. This research seeks to explore these issues in greater detail through the use of qualitative data from the Chinese city of Tai’an. It seeks to investigate and examine various stakeholder involvement in the generation of online content and how the city is marketed, represented, and presented in the online context. By analysing relevant online content produced by local government, tourism industry professionals, internet celebrities, tourists and residents respectively, in addition to interviewing them on their perceptions of Tai'an, the researcher will analyse and compare motivations and influences behind the perception of place from different viewpoints. This study aims to establish a theoretical model that explains how meaning is filtered through layers to form online content about place, and whose experience of place is dominant and whose is suppressed.