Close menu


Sunderland Repository records the research produced by the University of Sunderland including practice-based research and theses.

Challenging Hostel User Typologies: Motivations and Mobilities in Norway

Butler, Gareth (2010) Challenging Hostel User Typologies: Motivations and Mobilities in Norway. Doctoral thesis, University of Sunderland.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)


In current academic literature hostels have frequently been identified as the primary mode of accommodation for young budget travellers, most notably in the form of backpackers. Although typically identified as a rite de passage for many middle-class Westerners, a need to challenge contemporary backpacker typologies was identified as potential travellers from Eastern Europe, Russia, China and Southeast Asia had become increasingly mobilised. Research has focused predominantly outside of Europe and has centred mainly in three regions – India, Southeast Asia, and Australasia. This geographically ‘Eastern-centric’ research orientation has thus created a regional-based definition which has been used to describe a global phenomenon. Moreover, these typologies have also neglected the motivations of travellers from non-conventional demographic backgrounds and have frequently overlooked those visiting destinations which are deemed unconventional or non-exotic. Backpacker motivations have become heavily stereotyped and rigid, yet many academics have persisted in romanticising their behavioural performances, frequently portraying their journeys as highly mobile, fluid sojourns which are built upon strong desires to attain new cultural experiences and to immerse oneself into the unknown. Building upon the research of Hannam and Ateljevic (2007), Edensor (2007) and Muzaini (2006), this thesis challenges many fundamental definitions and explores the notion that many backpackers may indeed search for the banal as opposed to maintaining its avoidance. Moreover, the role of mobility, which has been neglected from a significant proportion of academic literature on backpackers, is critically observed in order to assess its significance and validity in the overall
experience of backpacking-orientated vacations. While backpackers are frequently identified as highly mobile travellers, the thesis critically examines this notion and suggests that many may be far less mobile than originally perceived. A multi-method qualitative study was developed and undertaken between April 2008 and September, 2009 which details the accounts and experiences of 59 interviewees and additionally documents the findings from several participant observations at a total of 24 different hostels in Southern and Western Norway. The findings of this thesis suggest that the hostel user is a highly versatile character who exhibits a wide spectrum of different motivations, many of which differ considerably from observations in more typical research settings. Moreover, the accounts of many hostel users reveal that mobility is an intrinsic feature to the overall experience of their holidays, while those exhibiting similar characteristics to the conventional backpacker typology frequently opted to perform in significantly different and more immobile ways. The thesis therefore represents a genuine contribution to knowledge on a subject which has often failed to escape an academic obsession with creating definitions and a need to oversimplify the large diversity of motivations used to characterise them.

Challenging_Hostel_User_Typ.pdf - Accepted Version

Download (1MB)

More Information

Depositing User: Barry Hall


Item ID: 3310

Users with ORCIDS

Catalogue record

Date Deposited: 09 Jan 2013 15:03
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2019 09:07


Author: Gareth Butler

University Divisions

Faculty of Business, Law and Tourism > Sunderland Law School


Tourism > Tourism

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item