Traditionally the relationship between residents and tourists in a community is superficial in nature (Ratz, 2000). Interactions between the parties are not only transitory, unequal and unbalanced, but they are also predicated on financial exchanges (Mason, 2006), and rooted in the dichotomy of 'self' versus 'other' (Wearing & Wearing, 2001). Within the literature, calls for research have been made to examine a potential deeper emotional relationship between residents and tourists (McIntosh, 1998; Pizam, Uriely & Reichel, 2000; Prentice, Witt, & Wydenbach, 1994; Wearing & Wearing, 2001).
Applying and testing the theory of emotional solidarity (Durkheim (1995), a sequential exploratory mixed method study was conducted to better understand the emotional relationships residents of Beaufort County, South Carolina have with tourists in their community. In the context of tourism, this theory posits that residents' interaction with tourists, shared beliefs, and shared behaviors with tourists will influence the emotional solidarity they have with tourists. The research design included three phases: a qualitative component, which involved a series of focus groups with Beaufort County residents using conceptual content analysis to develop items for the four scales of the constructs within the proposed theoretical framework; a scale development component with two pilot tests using EFA, reliabilities and validities to purify each measure; and a survey component using CFA, SEM, and MANOVA to test Durkheim's model, nested alternative models, and to determine if emotional solidarity dimensional scores differed across resident characteristics and tourist types.
Each dimension of the four scales was confirmed through CFA, and Durkheim's model was supported through SEM. An amended Durkheim model with four additional antecedents of emotional solidarity did not significantly explain a greater degree of variance in the construct. Few significant differences in the three dimensions of emotional solidarity (i.e., sympathetic understanding, emotional closeness, welcoming of visitors) were found across resident characteristics (e.g., resident tourism dependence and recent travel experience). Residents expressed a higher degree of sympathetic understanding, emotional closeness, and welcoming of visitors with family tourists over any other type of tourist, especially second homeowners.
Theoretical and practical implications are discussed in detail. Suggestions for future research are presented, including testing Durkheim's (1995) model across numerous contexts, extending the model with additional antecedents and outcomes of emotional solidarity to explain a greater degree of variance in emotional solidarity, and examining the construct from both residents' and tourists' perspectives.