One of these significant works, John Urry’s The Tourist Gaze, is a comprehensive thesis that approaches tourism as a framework for unearthing the broad social connections and links.
The central component of Urry’s theory is the perceived “tourist gaze”, that is, the alternative way of looking at the environment (Franklin and Crang 2001, p.8), which has aspects that prefigure the postmodern experience; in other words, Urry postulates that in order to gain insights into the tourist gaze, one must first understand the transition towards postmodernity. Whereas modernity is defined by rigid cultural differentiation both vertically and horizontally, postmodernity entails a decline in the barriers between cultures, partially due to the rapid growth of mass media (Fotsch, 2010). The theory contends that there is no single tourist gaze, because it varies by society, social group as well as by historical period (Urry 2002, p.1); this assertion underscores Urry’s point that tourist gazes are constructed through difference, that is, the gaze is constructed in relation to its opposite, the non-tourist kind of social experience. In that respect, the central idea in the tourist gaze theory is that the typical objects of the tourist gaze can yield invaluable information about the particular elements of society that they are contrasted with, thereby shedding light on what goes on in the normal society. This theory suggests that the process of identifying a tourist gaze entails examining the particular gaze alongside its otherness, especially because every gaze is unique to the fundamental class differences within the socio-economic strata.