Heritage, authenticity and history

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Our everyday view of heritage is one which is now deeply entwined with our sense of history and past as well as with our current consumerist tendencies; that is, choice and good value are key factors but so too are the desires to be entertained, to be educated and to be provided with an enhancement to one’s very sense of self. This point is important. Heritage – as part of the growth in culture as industry – must be seen to deliver the opportunity for visitors to build, enhance or reorientate their own (and others’) sense of identity (c.f. Bachleitner and Zins, 1999: 200). This might be a confirmation of one’s national identity such as a visit to a battlefield or a national sporting stadium. It might be the chance to examine one’s gender role, sexuality or professional standing. Through heritage attractions men and women’s experiences in factories, on farms or in domestic service are presented to us for reflection. We might reflect on our age at museums of childhood, or our class as we tour a stately home or a tenement house. We may examine our claims to be country folk or city dwellers as we move between rural sites and urban attractions. The choices are vast and the heritage and tourism industries work very hard at expanding the choice and stimulating our desire to make those choices. To explore and experience heritage is now part and parcel of our leisure identities. Our engagement with the concept is less an option and increasingly an expectation. We are engaged, as Cohen and Taylor (1992: 40) have suggested, in both ‘reality work’ and ‘identity work’. And life is increasingly rarely ‘just lived’ but rather we are encouraged to undertake remedial work on who we are and what we accept as reality. Furthermore, how we engage with and how we resist the social structures around us is done with the help of experts and advisers. Heritage is one such culture industry that has expanded its remit to help us reassess our lives, our pasts and our sense of what is real.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication Quality Issues in Heritage Visitor Attractions
EditorsSiobhan Drummond, Ian Yeoman
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherButterworth Heinemann
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print) ISBN 0750646756
Publication statusPublished - 2001

Publication series

NameQuality Issues in Heritage Visitor Attractions


  • Scotland
  • heritage
  • tourism
  • Place Marketing
  • authenticity
  • media
  • Scottishness
  • Marketing
  • cultural work
  • identity work
  • visitor attractions


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