Beyond the shadows of utility : evolutionary consumer theory and the rise of modern tourism

Chai, Andreas GND

A generic feature of advanced economic development is the rapid emergence of what Konrad Lorenz dubbed the ‘Pleasure Economy’ – the rising percentage of household income spent on leisure consumption (Lorenz 1970). To explain such long run shifts in consumption, it is necessary to do away with the shadow that modern utility theory casts on the nature of consumer tastes and to investigate how these have indeed evolved in the face of a continuously expanding and increasingly heterogeneous set of consumption opportunities. Starting with the basic conjecture that the expansion of consumption is shaped by a set of biologically evolved behavioral predispositions which are inherent in the consumer’s genetic endowment (Witt 2001), we examine the historical emergence of certain types of tourism to show how the interplay between these ‘wants’ and the act of recreational travel may account for the explosive growth of modern tourism activity.


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Chai Dr. rer. pol., A., 2007. Beyond the shadows of utility: evolutionary consumer theory and the rise of modern tourism. Jena.
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