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The inevitability of essentializing culture in destination branding: the cases of fika and hygge


Caprioli, L and Larson, M and Ek, R and Ooi, C-S, The inevitability of essentializing culture in destination branding: the cases of fika and hygge, Journal of Place Management and Development, 14, (3) pp. 346-361. ISSN 1753-8335 (2021) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright Statement

Copyright 2021 Laura Caprioli, Mia Larson, Richard Ek and Can-Seng Ooi. Published by Emerald Publishing Limited. This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) licence. Anyone may reproduce, distribute, translate and create derivative works of this article (for both commercial and non-commercial purposes), subject to full attribution to the original publication and authors. The full terms of this licence may be seen at legalcode

DOI: doi:10.1108/JPMD-12-2019-0114



This paper aims to focus on the re-presentation of the cultural phenomena hygge in Denmark and fika in Sweden in destination branding and address the inevitability of their essentialization through the branding process.


Three relevant semi-structured interviews with destination marketing organisationís employees were conducted, as well as a content-based analysis of three social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). A total of 465 posts in total were analysed (140 Facebook posts, 109 Twitter posts, 216 Instagram posts).


This study demonstrates how, when communicated through social media, intangible cultural assets are transformed into tangible elements. It explains why the re-presentation and place branding processes necessarily simplify and essentialize the destination.


Destination branding scholars have traditionally criticised the flattening and essentialization of culture in destination branding and have called for a more nuanced approach to presenting a destination. This paper situates destination branding as a process that necessitates the manipulation of the presentation of the destination, which inevitably essentializes the place; this is intended. Critical destination branding researchers need to rethink their criticisms and acknowledge the inherent essentialization goal of destination branding.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:destination branding, social media communication, essentialization, fika, hygge, intangible cultural assets, Nordic destination branding, mediatisation
Research Division:Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services
Research Group:Tourism
Research Field:Tourism marketing
Objective Division:Commercial Services and Tourism
Objective Group:Tourism services
Objective Field:Socio-cultural issues in tourism
UTAS Author:Ooi, C-S (Professor Can Seng Ooi)
ID Code:145921
Year Published:2021
Web of Science® Times Cited:1
Deposited By:Office of the School of Social Sciences
Deposited On:2021-08-11
Last Modified:2022-11-17
Downloads:8 View Download Statistics

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