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Postgraduate student receives dissertation award

28 March 2022

Rebecca Gormley, a former Master’s and undergraduate student at the School of Geography and Planning, has been awarded the 2022 Postgraduate Dissertation Prize by the Geography of Leisure and Tourism Group of the Royal Geographical Society (RGS).

The Geographies of Leisure and Tourism Research Group offers an annual prize of £150 for the best taught Master’s dissertation in leisure, tourism, or sports geography, submitted as part of a MSc degree.

Rebecca’s dissertation, “(B)ordering backpacking: the influence of Instagram on the gendered nature of travel and mobility” examined the gendered nature of backpacking and the influence of Instagram, and was regarded as making a very strong contribution to tourism geographies.

Responding to the award, Rebecca said: ‘Receiving this award means so much, particularly due to the context I wrote the dissertation in. I wanted to investigate the ways that use of the social media platform Instagram was shaping the gendered nature of international backpacking, but of course I was faced with doing this at a time where travel was restricted.

“This led me to innovate in my method to create a nuanced way to research Instagram as a tourism ‘stage’, and experiment with categories of ‘identities’, ‘ideologies’ and ‘itineraries’ to frame performance upon it. This enabled me to attend to the gendered discourses embedded within Insta-backpacking and extrapolate how social media more generally is shaping the evolution of travel and tourism.

“Writing this piece was a huge personal and academic achievement and I am honoured to have this work recognized by the Royal Geographic Society.

“Finally, I would like to express an enormous amount of gratitude to my dissertation supervisor, Professor Jon Anderson, as without his guidance and support this project would not have been possible.”

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