The Network of Themes of Constructivist Strategies for Interpreting Cultural Heritage in the Context of Tourism

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Department of Tourism Management, School of Management and Accounting, Allameh Tabatabai University, Tehran, Iran

2 Associate Professor, Department of Tourism Management, Faculty of Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism, University of Mazandaran, Babolsar, Iran


Extended Abstract
It is evident that in the nature of tourism-oriented demand, with the intensification of the transformational force from the demand side and changing the role of the audience of interpretation, the nature and method of interpretation and the role of commentators in the present age must inevitably change. Reflecting on the practical consequences of changing attitudes towards heritage interpretation in the process, techniques, and common strategies of heritage interpretation and applications of this change in improving the quality of heritage-based tourism products is essential for a country like Iran, which ranks ninth in number cultural heritage sites and ranks tenth in terms of the number of intangible and oral cultural heritage registered in the world, among the richest countries in the world in terms of cultural heritage. Therefore, explaining the role of interpretation in tourism development is important. This study also examines the substantive process of heritage interpretation in the present age and the transition from positivist to constructivist interpretation and seeks to answer the following question:
- What is the interpretation of heritage, and to what extent does this view correspond to the strategies of the constructivist approach to cultural heritage?
The present study is a descriptive-exploratory research that has used the method of interpretive qualitative research and content analysis. Due to the need for the interviewees to master the subject of heritage interpretation, the statistical population of the study includes experienced guides active in the field of incoming tours and also dedicated guides to the Persepolis World Heritage Site who have at least five years of experience in the field of heritage interpretation. The snowball method was selected, and data collection was done in August and September 2021 through in-depth semi-structured telephone interviews with experienced tour guides and continued until theoretical saturation (fourteenth); the interviews were written, and the resulting text, using the usual thematic analysis method and MAXQDA software were analyzed. The questions in this section were designed based on past studies.
Results and Discussion
Comparison of the themes from the analysis of the interview text with the constructivist interpretation strategies extracted from the literature shows
- Interpret the site as part of the whole
 The interviewees' awareness of the fact that the purpose of interpreting heritage, especially given the wider importance and social-value function of heritage in our time, is to accumulate the audience with a flood of information, although not scientific and documented, but the mission of its interpretation. To be a driving force to lead people in society to understand the message and values of cultural heritage and leave a lasting impact on the audience of interpretation.
- Linking between the past and the present
Regarding the content of the connection between the past and the present in the interpretation of heritage, it should be noted that along with the emphasis on a constructivist approach to interpretation based on creating links between elements throughout society and history, the process of interpretation should strengthen the sense of belonging, connection, and connection in the tourist.
 - Selection and adaptation of the content of the commentary to the previous knowledge, culture, and interests of tourists
The guides' emphasis on the need to make comparisons in the tourist mind to emphasize the commonalities of the host culture and tourists to stimulate the tourist mind to connect with the site and not boast about excellence is significant. It shows the knowledge of experienced commentators on the need to emphasize commonalities and not distinctions between cultural and critique of excellence and pride in their interpretation.
 - Liven up the site for the tourist
This means guides to things like the interpreter's duty to help the tourist touch the past and visualize current life scenes on the site through several. Such an approach is consistent with the prevailing approach of third-generation tourism empiricism and contemporary tourists' desire for lifestyle experiences.
- Storytelling and narration using elements of intangible culture
 Constructivist interpretation emphasizes including historical facts in the heart of stories and narratives. However, slang allows the tourist to relate to heritage personally and emotionally.
 - Involvement of tourists in the process of interpretation and encouragement of discourse and self-interpretation
The theme of tourists' participation in the process of interpreting and encouraging discourse and self-interpretation is one of the key themes in the transition from positivist to constructivist interpretation.
- Stimulate the thinking and creativity of tourists instead of emphasizing information and education
 The emphasis of the interviewees on stimulating the thinking and creativity of tourists, instead of emphasizing information and education, was based on the belief that the tourist, in spare time, does not seek to receive a large amount of specialized information and creates mental challenges that engage the mind and interest.
- Flexibility in the program and allowing visitors to discover
 Regarding the strategy of flexibility in the program and allowing the tourist to discover, there was not much agreement among the interviewees.
Based on the theoretical framework developed in the section on theoretical foundations in justifying the transition to the constructivist approach, the research seeks to translate these theoretical concepts into practical strategies used by heritage interpreters in action and real interpretation situations. According to the findings of the content analysis of interviews with cultural tourism guides, the interviewees considered eight main topics in the interpretation of heritage sites, which confirms the adherence of experienced commentators to constructivist interpretation principles and strategies, although unaware of the theoretical foundations of this transition.
There is no funding support.
Authors’ Contribution
Authors contributed equally to the conceptualization and writing of the article. All of the authors approved the content of the manuscript and agreed on all aspects of the work declaration of competing interest none.
Conflict of Interest
Authors declared no conflict of interest.
 We are grateful to all the scientific consultants of this paper.


Main Subjects

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