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Taiwan Research Programme
London School of Economics and Political Science
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Professor Stephan Feuchtwang

Dr Fang-Long Shih

Social Conflict in Communities Impacted by Tourism: one-year ethnographic fieldwork in Kanas, Xinjiang, China

With Jingjing Yang (University of Surrey)

Series: Seminar on Taiwan in Comparative Perspective; Cultural Heritage

Date: Thursday 28 November, 5pm-7pm

Venue: Room  1.14, New Academic Building, London School of Economics

Chair: Dr Fang-Long Shih (LSE Taiwan Research Programme)


This seminar has two main themes.

Theme one: Social conflict in tourism development in multi-ethnic communities  

This study primarily employs Coser’s* social conflict theory for a discussion of tourism development in Chinese communities. The study provides a comprehensive application and analysis of Coser’s construct of conflict as functional (as well as dysfunctional) as it relates to the imposition of tourism on communities. It examines the extent to which Coser’s sixteen propositions can be applied to tourism impact studies, using evidence communities in China. This context differs from that of Coser's work, but it is argued that the application of his sixteen propositions to tourism impacts on Chinese constitutes a valid and useful contribution, and adds to conceptualizations currently in use to understand the impacts of tourism on minority and marginal communities. The combination of ethnographic description and sociologically-oriented analysis, drawing upon both Chinese and western paradigms that are, at times, very different in their underlying value system, challenges several of Coser’s suppositions.

Theme two: Fieldwork in a remote ethnic community in northwest China

The basis for the study is derived from the author’s one-year ethnographic fieldwork in an ethnic community in Xinjiang, China. She was the first Han woman to have spent a winter there, a period that sees the villages without electricity, running water, privacy or any other modern comforts. During the year, she learnt local languages, cooked local food, drank alcohol with locals and established good friendships with everyone. The one-year ethnographic fieldwork gave the researcher a ‘true picture’ and a deep understanding about inter-group and in-group social conflict and cooperation and alliances in the community, especially in relation to tourism.

A number of issues will be covered during the seminar, including: how to conduct fieldwork in China’s remote areas; how to obtain ‘true data’; how to establish a good relationship with all stakeholders including ethnic minorities and governments; and how to balance the ethical requirements of western universities with the reality of China. 

*Coser, L.A. (1956). The Functions of Social Conflict. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

About the speaker

Dr Jingjing Yang is Lecturer in Tourism Development at the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, University of Surrey, UK. Dr Yang’s research interests centre on sociology in tourism (especially social conflict), anthropology in tourism, indigenous tourism and China tourism development. 

Her publications are fully grounded in her fieldwork research, studies and consultancy practices. For her PhD study about social conflict in tourism development, she spent one year on ethnographic fieldwork in an ethnic community in Xinjiang, China. She obtained two awards for this research: a Highly Commended Award in the 2012 Emerald/EFMD Outstanding Doctoral Research Awards; and a 2010 Chinese Government Award for Outstanding Self-Financed Students. 

Jingjing has also been involved in several research and planning projects on tourism destination development in China and has worked for three year in China with CYTS Tours Holding Co., Ltd. (CYTS), a leading tourism company. 

Her full bio is available on the Surrey University website.