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From leisure to tourism : how BDSM demonstrates the transition of deviant pursuits to mainstream products

Tomazos, Konstantinos and O'Gorman, Kevin and MacLaren, Andrew (2016) From leisure to tourism : how BDSM demonstrates the transition of deviant pursuits to mainstream products. Tourism Management, 60. pp. 30-41. ISSN 0261-5177

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    Understanding the conditions and motivators of shifts in cultural trends is crucial for those managing and promoting the consumption of tourist activities. This paper explores the recent popular surge of interest in BDSM (Bondage, Domination, Sadism and Masochism) and develops a model that explains how ‘deviant’ activities move from the margins to the mainstream. The theoretical gap is filled by identifying the oblique exploration of Goffman’s conceptualisation of ‘Backspaces’. Many tourist activities, previously perceived as deviant, have gone through this process and the model can be applied to any activity as its popularity increases, showing how tourists can see deviancy as a liminoid pursuit, something they can share with others whilst escaping their everyday selves. A three-stage methodology addresses a methodological gap: how to research occult tourist behaviour. This is of central importance to the tourism industry, as understanding when a minority, even deviant, pursuit could develop into a mainstream activity has considerable commercial importance.