Motivation is considered as the cause of human behavior (Mook, 1996). It is a state of need or a condition that drives an individual toward certain types of action that could satisfy needs. Given the importance of travel motivation in determining behavior, studies of travel motivation are abundant, and various conceptualizations of travel motivation have been developed. However, many of these empirical studies were based on social psychological theories, which have been blamed for their failure to explain why individuals would choose to satisfy their needs through traveling rather than by other means such as family or religion, or why they choose one destination over another (Ryan and Glendon, 1998; Jamal and Lee, 2003). To address this, many sociologists have included tourism motivation in their studies (Rojek, 1995; Wang, 2000).
In contrast to psychological perspectives, which suggest that human beings are born with basic innate needs and that travel provides alternatives to satisfy these needs when they experience disequilibrium in their need systems, sociological approaches emphasize the influence of the structure of society on an individual's travel behavior (Jamal and Lee, 2003). It is argued that tourism is not something given. It is rather socially and culturally produced, constructed and generated (Wang, 2000).
The first sociological account of tourism appeared in Germany in 1930 (Cohen, 1984). Since then, several distinctive approaches or perspectives emerged (Wang, 2000), such as the Weberian (tourism as meaningful action and motivation, Dann, 1977, 1981), the Durkheimian (tourism as ritual and myth, Graburn, 1989; MacCannell, 1976), the Marxian (tourism as false consciousness and ideology, Thurot and Thurot, 1983), the structural-functional (tourism as social therapy, Krippendorf, 1987), the structural-conflictual (tourism as the conflict of interests between the core and periphery, Turner and Ash, 1975), the symbolic interactionist (tourism as communication of identity and as symbolic display of status, Brown, 1992), the phenomenological (tourism as experiences, Cohen, 1979), the feminist (tourism as gender inequality Kinnaird and Hall, 1994) and the post-structuralist (tourism as sign, discourse, and representation, Dann, 1996).
One fundamental approach that sociologists apply to tourism is the contextualism of modernity, which frames motivation in a broad context of global structure and social changes. According to this approach, the formation of tourism is not merely an issue of bio- or psychogenesis at the level of the individual but rather a matter of sociogenesis at the levels of society and culture (Wang, 2000). Any changes in the global environment may influence the needs and desires of individuals and their subsequent motivations (Burns and Holden, 1995; Wang, 2000). The influence of the global structure on motivation is affected more directly by the home environment of the individual. The modernization of society greatly changes people's lifestyle in that they tend to experience more fragmentation in their daily life. Interpersonal relationships also become more fragmented and less authentic (MacCannell, 1976). These changes result in anomie in the life of individuals, which forces them to escape from their home environment and seek authenticity and self-enhancement at destination, through the experience of the products, services and facilities provided there (Dann, 1981).
One of the elements of the home environment – culture – has yet been fully explored in the study of tourism motivation, despite the fact that the importance of incorporating cultural elements has been widely recognized in the study of consumer behavior (Douglas, 1997; Luna and Gupta, 2001). Due to the increasingly diversified and sophisticated behavior of tourists, the incorporation of cultural elements in the study of tourism motivation is critically needed. An extensive review of the literature on culture and tourism motivation revealed that most of the studies were conducted in the context of cross-cultural comparison. With few exceptions, previous studies have largely employed nationality as the surrogate for culture. Contributing enormously to the understanding of travel motivation, the use of a collective cultural proxy as a discriminating variable actually assumes cultural homogeneity within a national or ethnic boundary, whereas the layers of culture have been ignored. Li and Cai (2012) addressed this by exploring the effect of values on travel motivation and behavioral intention. Personal values, as one of the four manifests of culture, were found to exert a significantly positive effect on travel motivation. However, the study did not explain how individuals with distinct cultural values are urged by different travel motivations.
Cultural theory and grid-group analysis
This study draws on grid-group cultural theory, also known as grid-group analysis, cultural theory or the theory of socio-cultural viability (Figure 1). The theory has been developed over the past 40 years through the work of the British anthropologists Mary Douglas and Michael Thompson, the American political scientist Aaron Wildavsky, and many others (Mamadouth, 1999). The fundamental idea of grid-group cultural theory is that what people do or want is culturally biased. Grid-group theorists claim that culture can be classified across two dimensions of sociality: through individuation in the group dimension and through social incorporation in the grid dimension (Douglas, 1982). The group dimension covers incorporation into a bounded group, which is strong when the individual is a member of one corporate group and weak when an individual does not belong to such a group. The grid dimension is ‘the cross-hatch of rules to which individuals are subject in the course of their interaction’ (Douglas, 1982: 192). Personal identity is determined by individuals’ relationships to groups, and personal behavior is shaped by social prescription.
These dimensions address two fundamental questions about human existence: who am I, and how should I behave? (Schwarz and Thompson, 1990). This claim is based on the assumption that people derive a great many of their preferences, perceptions, opinions, values and norms from their adherence to a certain way of organizing social relations, which is revealed by their preference for the two basic dimensions of social life: group (incorporation or boundedness) and grid (regulation or prescription).
The two dimensions form four major social types with corresponding ideologies (Caulkins, 1999): individualists, fatalists, hierarchists and egalitarians. Individualists are characterized by weak group incorporation and weak regulation or role prescriptions. They are relatively free from external constraints and their ability to control others is a measure of their position in the network. Individualists pursue personal rewards in competitive environments.
Fatalists are characterized by weak group incorporation and binding prescription. They are strictly constrained by external factors and have little influence on the way in which they live. Hierarchists are characterized by strong group boundaries and binding prescriptions. They have highly differentiated roles and maintain hierarchical social relations. Egalitarians have strong group boundaries and few regulations. They share an opposition to the outside world and are thus closely bound.
Grid-group cultural theory has been widely applied by an interdisciplinary variety of scholars includes interpretation of environmentalism (Douglas and Wildavsky, 1982; Grendstad and Selle, 1997), perception of risk (Dake, 1991), a critique of rational choice theory (Douglas and Ney, 1998), technology policy (Schwarz and Thompson, 1990), public administration (Hood, 1996) and religious communities (Atkins, 1991). However, its application in the hospitality and tourism literature has been very limited. Houghton (1994) explained the organizational diversity of the hospitality industry by referring to the cultural attributes of the markets to which it caters. Duval (2006) applied grid-group cultural theory to explore the relationship between migration and tourism. Fisher (2009) used the theory to illustrate how a given individual can exhibit different behavioral patterns in a variety of situations within the context of tipping. However, as these studies were descriptive, they were only able to portray the characteristics of tourists in each dimension and failed to validate the descriptions with empirical data.