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Guided walking tours exploring the landscapes of Communist urban modernity in Prague and Krakow: sets of small-scale events with the capacity to influence society

Morton, Ian Joseph (2019) Guided walking tours exploring the landscapes of Communist urban modernity in Prague and Krakow: sets of small-scale events with the capacity to influence society. Event Management. ISSN 1525-9951

Item Type: Article



This paper aims to contribute to the small but growing body of academic work, reviewed by Lockstone-Binney, Holmes and Robertson (2015) and including Frew and White (2015), which takes events literature beyond the confines of the events industry and into an exploration of the impact of events on a fundamental socio-cultural level, in the long term and in sectors outside of events. The work is a case study, using participant observation, examining the impact of small, guided walking tours operating at the local level as they contribute to setting the theoretical agenda for dark tourism, a type of tourism, which resonates heavily at the societal level.

The walking tours, in Prague and Krakow, explore urban landscapes that emerged from historical modernity under Communism. Stone and Sharpley (2008) and Bowman and Pezzullo (2010) assert that dark events or visitor attractions, which deal with modernity – often giving attendees a vision of the enormity of change and ambition inherent in modernity – commonly extend to the darkest and most profound reaches of the dark tourism sector.

This paper identifies 3 ‘themes of interpretation’ in the tours: the stunning speed of modern change to have occurred in the urban landscapes visited; the greater abundance of ‘open air’ between neighbouring structures that can be sensed by the human being in the modern city, which can, at times be impressive to behold but can result in a dark or insecure experience for the pedestrian user; the vast power of the state in the Communist regimes historically at work in Prague and Krakow to plan and bring about wholesale change of a landscape.

This study also deepens understanding of interpretative techniques used in guided walking tours and appropriate research methods to study them. For example, guided walking tours combine the power of walking in the city (De Certeau, 1984) with entertaining/educational content about urban landscapes to create profound experiences. Also, Spradley (1980) and Musante and DeWalt (2010) identify, in participant observation, repeated conflict as well as agreement between the judgement of the researcher and the input of other participants and leaders in the social situations studied. The author experienced this, found it beneficial for forming a grounded understanding of the social situations and developed some minor strategies towards assuring the observation was as open as could be to the input of others.

Keywords: small-scale events, impact of events, guided walking tours, dark tourism, participant observation

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Depositing User: Ian Morton


Item ID: 10390
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ISSN: 1525-9951
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ORCID for Ian Joseph Morton: ORCID iD

Catalogue record

Date Deposited: 20 Feb 2019 10:29
Last Modified: 30 Sep 2020 11:01


Author: Ian Joseph Morton ORCID iD

University Divisions

Faculty of Business, Law and Tourism
Faculty of Business, Law and Tourism > Sunderland Business School


Tourism > Events Management

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