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The consumption benefits and the role of authenticity in the heritage experience

Athinodoros Chronis, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Inspired by the proliferation of consumption practices related with experiencing the past, this dissertation studies the benefits consumers experience at heritage sites as well as the role that site authenticity plays into the realization of these benefits. ^ Ethnographic fieldwork at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania shows that the consumption benefits associated with visiting a heritage site are multiple: knowledge, escape, aesthetic values, cultural values, and benefits related to identity. Above all, a beneficial outcome of the Gettysburg experience is consumers' connection with the past. This is conceived as an immersion experience during which consumers use their imagination constructively in order to visualize scenes of the past, to travel back in time, and to emotionally understand life in the past. ^ Authenticity, as a site characteristic, can be of five types: object-related, fact-based, locational, personage, and environmental. Data indicates that perceived authenticity of the site, in its various forms, is positively associated to consumers' connection with the past. ^ In addition, it is found that, consumers' experience of the past is embedded in a heritage narrative and is characterized by consumers' effort to follow this narrative. In order to arrive at a more complete and meaningful story and in order to have a rewarding experience consumers fill narrative gaps, they actively engage their imagination, and they re-contextualize the narrated events so that they will achieve familiarity. Overall, consumers' struggle to follow the narrative contributes to their immersion into the historical presentation and their connection with the past. ^

Subject Area

Business Administration, Marketing

Recommended Citation

Chronis, Athinodoros, "The consumption benefits and the role of authenticity in the heritage experience" (2003). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3092531.