Clashing cultures – a systemic examination of onboard and destination cultures in cruise tourism

Format: Papers, RSD3, Topic: Economics & Organisations

Authors: Carolin Kowollik and Wolfgang Jonas

Designers influence the culture of communities and whole societies through the development of products, services, processes and systems. This is particularly evident on cruise ships: The designed ship, exterior and interior, as well as the programs on board create an artificial environment that aims at evoking paradisiacal holiday feelings. The conception of the journey aims at a unique experience for customers. The totality of these arrangements may be called an onboard culture. So far, it is little considered how the mass arrival of cruise tourists affects the inhabitants of a target port. If a ship is in port, two cultures meet that do not only come from different nations, but at the same time have completely different values, beliefs, expectations and attitudes. The passengers are in a vacation mode, which is characterized by luxury, adventure, carelessness and relaxation, while the residents are in their everyday mode, which is characterized by work, family, friends, politics, responsibilities and problems. A clash of cultures seems inevitable.

The goal of this design inquiry is to take the clash of cultures into consideration through a systemic examination. We assume that the design of the ship and the socio-culture on board, represented by the passengers, sends strong messages to the people of the target culture. Those messages are expressions of the ethical values and behaviour patterns of the onboard culture. Design-driven changes of the onboard culture could therefore assign a different meaning to the ship and change the encounter of cultures for the better. A special focus will therefore be placed on the examination of the construction and establishment of meanings and the social interactions in the “system onboard culture”.

Presentation & paper

Citation Data

Author(s): OCTOBER 2017
Title: Clashing cultures – a systemic examination of onboard and destination cultures in cruise tourism
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Article No.:
Symposium Dates:
First published: 28 September 2014
Last update:
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Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (ISSN 2371-8404) are published annually by the Systemic Design Association, a non-profit scholarly association leading the research and practice of design for complex systems: 3803 Tønsberg, Norway (922 275 696).


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