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

Document Type : Research Paper


1 PhD student in Tourism, Department of Tourism Management, Faculty 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 obvious 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 product, is important for a country like Iran, which ranks ninth in number Cultural heritage sites and ranked 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 and this study also examines the substantive and process of heritage interpretation in the present age and the transition from positivist to constructivist interpretation and seeks to answer the question that the views of tour guides about 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 5 years of experience in the field of heritage interpretation. The snowball method was selected, data collection was done in August and September 1400 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 throughout 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 with the aim of emphasizing the commonalities of the host culture and tourists to stimulate the tourist mind to connect with the site and not boast and excellence is significant and shows the knowledge of experienced commentators on the need to emphasize commonalities and not distinctions. Cultural and critique of excellence and pride in their interpretation.

- Liven up the site for the tourist

Guides to things like the interpreter's duty to help the tourist to touch the past and visualize current life scenes on the site through a number of and 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 places great emphasis on the inclusion of historical facts in the heart of stories and narratives, although slang, which allows the tourist to relate to heritage on a personal and emotional level.

- 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 his spare time does not seek to receive a large amount of specialized information and create mental challenges that engage the mind and interest.

- Flexibility in the program and giving visitors the opportunity to discover

Regarding the strategy of flexibility in the program and giving the tourist the opportunity to discover, there was not much agreement among the interviewees.


Relying 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 the field of action and real situations of interpretation. According to the findings of the content analysis of interviews with cultural tourism guides, eight main topics in the interpretation of heritage sites were considered by the interviewees, which confirms the adherence of experienced commentators to constructivist interpretation principles and strategies, although unaware of the theoretical foundations of this transition.


Cultural Heritage, Heritage Interpretation, Constructivist Interpretation, Heritage Tourism, Theme Network.


Main Subjects

Articles in Press, Accepted Manuscript
Available Online from 30 August 2022
  • Receive Date: 30 April 2022
  • Revise Date: 26 August 2022
  • Accept Date: 30 August 2022
  • First Publish Date: 30 August 2022