Guanxi & Dwelling: Contextualising the Study of Tourism Research

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingPublished conference contribution


The aim of this working paper is to critically reflect upon extant theory as a means to combine Eastern and Western philosophical discourse. In particular, we reflexively examine how, in an epistemological sense, guanxi (Eastern) and dwelling (Western) may usefully intertwine to provide an improved understanding of tourism research in China (Bao, Chen and Ma, 2014).

Guanxi is an Eastern Confucian concept that constitutes the practical, essential and authentic content of Chinese people’s everyday life. Guanxi is not only a traditional phenomenon, or a key element of contemporary business strategy, but is an inescapable condition of existence for Chinese people – it is omnipresent in accomplishing almost any task (Hsu, 2005). As such, Guanxi continually emphasises establishing, extending and monitoring inter-personal social relations that focus on its human or social affects.

Dwelling (Ingold, 2000), is a Western contextual philosophical perspective which attempts to dissolve the boundaries between social – material, culture – nature and so on. As such, it can be argued that “all creatures, human and non-human, are fellow passengers in the one world within which they all live, and through their actions continuously create the conditions for each other’s existence” (Ingold, 2005: 503).

Combing the perspectives of guanxi and dwelling enables an intertwined epistemological perspective to emerge that has the potential to frame tourism as a more holistic force that (re) shapes dwellers’ perception, cognition and engagement with other people (guanxi) and non-human components of all kinds within collective fields of power (ibid.). Moreover, these dynamic, ongoing and mutually constitutive engagements between guanxi, dwelling and tourism call for further critical investigation as such a perspective has been neglected in previous tourism research.

Bao, J., Chen, G. and Ma, L. (2014), Tourism research in China: Insights from insiders, Annals of Tourism, 45, 167-181. Hsu. (2005), Capitalism without contracts versus capitalists without capitalism: Comparing the influence of Chinese guanxi and Russian blat on marketization, Communist and Post-Communist Studies, 38 (3), 309-327
Ingold, T. (2005), Epilogue: Towards a Politics of Dwelling, Conservation and Society, 3 (2), 501-508.
Ingold, T. (2000), The Perception of the Environment: Essays in Livelihood, Dwelling and Skill, Great Briton.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCritical Tourism Studies Conference VI
Subtitle of host publication"10 years CTS: Reflections on the road less travelled and the journey ahead"
Place of PublicationOpatija, Croatia
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2015
EventCritical Tourism Studies VI: 10 years CTS: Reflections on the road less travelled and the journey ahead - Opatija, Croatia
Duration: 26 Jun 201530 Jun 2015

Publication series

NameInternational Critical Tourism Studies Conference
ISSN (Electronic)2053-7468


ConferenceCritical Tourism Studies VI
Abbreviated titleCTS 2015
Internet address


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