The places we hold dear



When the Québec government announced its intention to privatize part of Mont Orford Park in 2006, the public outcry was so strong that it was forced to back down. The citizens had such a strong attachment to the park that they were prepared to fight to protect it. Pascale Marcotte, research professor in Recreation, Culture and Tourism Studies at Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, wanted to know what motivates people's attachment to place.

Attachment to a tourist or cultural site can be based on values as varied as aesthetics, a sense of ethics or even spirituality.

Attachment to a tourist or cultural site goes beyond simple utilitarianism. It can be based on values as varied as aesthetics, a sense of ethics or even spirituality. Such a place can even become a fundamental aspect of personality. In the case of Mont Orford, attachment led to activism. This is not always the case. The researcher observed varying degrees of commitment to place. Sometimes a user will exhibit consumer behaviour, where commitment is limited to paying for access to the site. In other cases, people will take supportive actions such as donating money, volunteering or participating in the preservation of a site.

Pascale Marcotte's work shows that the more we frequent a place, the more attached we become and the more we invest in it. It also demonstrates that the fact of carrying out recreational activities in a place fosters integration and creates social bonds.

Some of the researcher's results were published in the collective work Tourisme durable et patrimoines : une dialectique développementale? (Karthala, Paris). In 2012, she organized an ACFAS conference at which 32 papers were presented. In 2013, a special issue of the journal Loisir et Société will be devoted to this topic.