Mapping the museum : the cultural consumption and production of two north west heritage sites
This thesis is based on case studies of two prominent heritage sites in the Greater Manchester area: Wigan Pier and The Museum of Science and Industry. These case studies have involved detailed interviews with and observation of visitors to the sites, interviews with staff, management and associates of the sites, and examination of archival records. The thesis addresses debates about heritage and the changing form and content of museums. In particular, there is an engagement with the work of Bourdieu, Foucault and Urry as the thesis seeks to analyse the construction and consumption of these two sites. Specifically, the complexity and diversity of such locations are highlighted, both in the ways in which such sites are constructed, produced and organised and in the manner in which they are consumed by visitors. Thus, it is argued that it is important to take note of the impact of the modes of operation of specific sites on the consumption patterns, found there. Further, it is maintained that this is a complex relationship, where a focus on the actual consumers enables the full complexity of the narratives they employ to talk about their visit, to emerge. On this basis, the centrality of the concept of the tourist gaze is challenged as the thesis explores the ways in which visitors physically, emotionally and imaginatively map their visit. Moreover, the thesis highlights the distinction of the sites in terms of authenticity. The detailed examination of the idea of cultural capital leads to the argument that this concept needs to be replaced with a theorisation which is better able to incorporate the everyday life and life histories of the visitors. With this aim the thesis seeks to locate visitors' consumption of these particular sites in the context of their general patterns of cultural consumption. Consequently, it is suggested that the notion of the 'cultural omnivore' has some potential in explaining the patterning of cultural consumption found amongst visitors to these two sites.