Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



Major Professor

Lydia M. Pulsipher

Committee Members

Thomas Bell, Sherry Cable


Small towns have increasingly begun to look to tourism as a means of promoting economic growth and development. While the positive economic impacts of tourism development have been widely recognized, the sociocultural impacts (which are often negative) have traditionally been overlooked. The transformation of sense of place for residents of small towns represents one of the many sociocultural impacts essential to the understanding of tourism's overall impact. Transformation of sense of place has been largely disregarded as a consideration in tourism development (and other development strategies), but the alteration of sense of place should be included in the evaluation of tourism and the consideration of who the development strategy actually benefits.

Jonesborough, Tennessee is used as a case study to understand how sense of place has changed for residents in a town where tourism has been developed. For this research, an analysis of socio-economic and demographic characteristics of Jonesborough is used to complement interviews of Jonesborough residents in the assessment of the ways in which tourism has impacted Jonesborough.

The analysis of data reveals that tourism has not benefited all residents of Jonesborough, and some residents contend that sense of place has been irreparably altered. While community members of Jonesborough who have a direct stake in tourism generally have experienced a positive transformation of sense of place, the residents who have not benefited from tourism have experienced a negative transformation of sense of place. This study reveals the importance of sociocultural impacts such as the transformation of sense of place in the evaluation of the success of development strategies such as tourism.

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