UK press and tourist discourses of Iran: a study in multiple realities

Masood Khodadadi, Hugh O’Donnell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this article is to investigate the competing discourses of Iran currently circulating in British society, and their influence on the tourist destination image of that country. A mixed-methods approach was adopted within a social constructionist perspective: this consisted of a Foucauldian discourse analysis of news reports in a range of British broadsheet newspapers, interviews with tourists who had visited Iran, and analysis of travel blogs written by a second group of tourists who had also previously visited the country. The findings show that the leading British broadsheets examined exclusively circulate an extremely negative discourse of Iran-as-Polity, originating in US and mediated by the British political field, whose main components are nuclear issues, danger, hostility and terrorism. Though UK tourists to the country are often drawn there initially by a largely Orientalist discourse of Iran-as-Persia, i.e. as a site of historical monuments, during and post visit, they develop a counter-discourse of Iran-as-Society which concentrates on the modernity of certain aspects of the country and above all the hospitality of its citizens, a discourse which is then further disseminated in the form of travel blogs. The article also mobilises Bourdieu?s concept of academic capital to examine the role of education in providing resources to resist the discourse of Iran-as-Polity. In its range of sources analysed, the article offers a relatively novel approach to investigating the role of media discourse and the internet ? the latter framed using Foucault?s ?genealogical? approach ? in the formation of competing tourist destination images of Iran.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-64
Number of pages12
JournalLeisure Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Iran
  • destination image
  • cultural tourism
  • news media
  • social media
  • discourse


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