Project Description

This bachelor thesis will dive into the world of urban exploration. Urban exploration, or UrbEx, is a recent form of leisure and adventure tourism that allows practitioners to explore a world that is hidden from plain sight. Specifically, it is a cultural practice that visits the derelict, risky, abandoned, and normally inaccessible constructions that once flourished but now seem to have been forgotten by society. This study focuses on the practices, experiences, and codes among urban explorers. It will first provide a comprehensive literature research to clarify the nature of UrbEx. Since urban explorers have their reasons for not actively engaging in academic research, not much has been written about the topic although its gaining interest. UrbEx is a very closed sub-¬‐culture, but residuals of their experiences are exhibitionistic represented on blogs and social media. As a second objective, this study attempts to link the practice of UrbEx with fundamental theories that have already proven their value for framing tourism activities. Based on findings retrieved from a qualitative content analysis, this research argues that the cultural practice of UrbEx does show resemblances with existing theories. Due to its illegal and risky character, and specific fascination with the beauty of derelict spaces, UrbEx could never be framed as a commercial tourism activity. However, some features (e.g. voluntary risk-taking, beauty of decay, and hunger for nostalgia) subtracted from explorers’ representations allow us to link the practice with existing fundamental tourism and leisure theories.

Author: T. Lubberts (2015)