Positive self-representations, sustainability and socially organised denial in UK tourists: discursive barriers to a sustainable transport future

Paul Hanna, Matthew Adams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This paper provides an empirical application of some recent developments in the social science of sustainability to understanding sustainable transport behaviour. We analyse talk about holidaymaking taken from interviews with self-defined “eco” or “sustainable” tourists. The focus of this paper explores the ways in which participants understand and reconcile the potential conflict of air transport and the notion of sustainable holidays. We identify a number of discursive strategies participants used to project and maintain positive self-representations in the context of complex, often incompatible constructions of sustainability derived from this particular dilemma. Such strategies are considered as concrete examples of the psychosocial organisation of denial and thus offer discursive barriers to sustainable transport futures. However, the analysis also demonstrates the ways in which some individuals were able to resist or challenge such forms of socially organised denial. The potential implications of these discursive barriers and strategies for sustainable transport futures and the tourism sector are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-206
JournalJournal of Sustainable Tourism
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 9 Aug 2017


Bibliographical note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of Sustainable Tourism on 09/08/2017, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/09669582.2017.1358272


  • Sustainable transport
  • denial
  • discourse
  • sustainable barriers
  • transport futures

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