Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

The Role of Identity Salience in the Leisure Behavior of Film Festival Participants: The Case of the Busan International Film Festival

Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

The Role of Identity Salience in the Leisure Behavior of Film Festival Participants: The Case of the Busan International Film Festival

Article excerpt

Introduction

Watching movies is a popular leisure activity in many societies. According to one survey, watching movies is one of the most popular indoor leisure activities among Koreans, and respondents viewed 3.13 movies a year at movie theaters on average (Lee & Kim, 2008). Visiting a film festival can be a highly social occasion, a very personal event, or both. Participating in a film festival seems to be a highly involved leisure activity that marks self-identity, given the fact that postmodern consumption is a search for the self and symbolic reflection of it (Wattanasuwan, 2005). Film festivals, however, have not been extensively studied in leisure research. Observing enthusiastic fan behaviors among the participants in a film festival triggers an examination of the role of identity salience and psychological involvement as a foundation of the dynamics linked to behavioral outcomes.

The intensity of psychological involvement and devotion consistently found in attendees of the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF), a relatively new Asian film festival, enables investigation of identity salience (IS) among film festival participants. Thus, our study is set in Busan, the second largest metropolitan city in South Korea, located on the southeast end of the Korean peninsula. Busan has an ocean-front landscape and a well-built traffic infrastructure, including an express railway, international airport, several seaports, and an efficient inland freeway system connecting numerous major cities in the peninsula. Busan has annually hosted the BIFF, one of the most successful international film festivals in Asia, since 1996. The BIFF serves as a creative tourism destination and an important Asian film market. It hosts 534 companies from 42 countries at its trade venue (BIFF Organization Office, 2010). Due to its phenomenal growth, the city of Busan chose the BIFF as one of the main growth drivers to turn it into an Asia-Pacific hub for the film industry and cultural tourism. This study used data collected during the 2009 BIFF, which attracted 173,516 local and foreign visitors and showed 355 films from 70 countries in 803 screenings.

It is out of social relationships that a self-concept emerges, and identities exist only insofar as people are participants in structured social relationships (Stryker, 1968). In essence, social identity theory posits that individuals have relatively distinct social self-concepts for each role they play. Thus, this theory explains how and why individuals select certain identity-related activities given all of the possible alternatives (Serpe, 1987). Further, social identity theory suggests that an individual's choice of actions can be explained by the concept of identity salience. Stryker (1968) maintains that the self-behavior relationship is central to social identity. Behaviors, therefore, are ultimately the affirming and verifying process of self (Stets & Burke, 2003; Burke, 2003). As indicated by Colton (1987), leisure behaviors reflect the importance of meanings and symbols, and meanings are created in the process of socialization. In line with a social perspective of identity salience, leisure researchers have maintained that leisure behavior is motivated by 'self ', and through the leisure behaviors an individual affirm the 'self ' (Scott & Shafer, 2001: Stebbins, 2007). Thus, self-identity is an important motivating factor that drives people's pursuit of leisure activities (Green & Jones, 2005).

It must be recognized that postmodern consumers make consumption choices not only from products' utility but also from their symbolic meanings; thus, they seek to create the self through symbolic consumption (Wattanasuwan, 2005). As Wattanasuwan put it, people consume cultural meanings to live in this "culturally constituted world." This statement holds true within the context of leisure pursuits, as leisure identity is chosen and achieved easier than race, gender, and occupation (Green & Jones, 2005). …

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