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The secular pilgrim: Are we flogging a dead metaphor?

Knox, Dan; Hannam, Kevin


Dan Knox
Associate Professor

Kevin Hannam


The metaphor of the tourist as pilgrim and tourism as a pilgrimage has been an important idea in tourism studies, reproduced in both academic and popular accounts with varying degrees of criticality. This research probe considers a number of different ways of thinking through the degree to which tourists could be said to be either secular pilgrims or hedonists in search of pleasure. As such it considers the meanings, uses and potential extensions of metaphors of pilgrimage and how these relate to religion, to tourism and to hedonism, as well as how all of these categories interconnect. There is no unity of approach to this question among the authors here and this on the whole makes for a lively and stimulating debate. Knox and Hannam extend the metaphor of the pilgrim into the realm of hedonistic tourism through an account of popular and mass tourist practice which considers the role of religion and spirituality as objects of tourist practice. Margry makes the case that secular pilgrim is an oxymoron and that more scholarly effort ought to be expended on identifying the limited but significant commonalities between tourism and pilgrimage. Olsen situates the discussion in relation
to secularization and challenges Knox and Hannam's playful extension and multiplication of metaphors. Salazar undertakes an analysis of the emergence and development of metaphors in tourism studies to demonstrate their continued utility but also the ways in which they shape representations and understandings. The range of opinions here represents a sustained reconsideration of established terminologies.


Knox, D., & Hannam, K. (2014). The secular pilgrim: Are we flogging a dead metaphor?. Tourism Recreation Research, 39(2), 236-242.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 1, 2014
Publication Date Jan 1, 2014
Deposit Date Nov 18, 2015
Journal Tourism Recreation Research
Print ISSN 0250-8281
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 39
Issue 2
Pages 236-242
Keywords tourism, tourists, pleasure, pilgrimage
Public URL
Publisher URL