Guiding Practices: Storytelling Tricks for Reproducing the Urban Landscape

Abstract

Through walking and talking, tour guides weave together an array of stories and facts in order to re-produce varied urban cultures and local histories. The practices of these ‘cultural intermediaries’ must at once be entertaining as well as educational, and are set within a rich urban context that is itself increasing in commercialization and homogenization. As a segment of a larger ethnographic study, this essay focuses on the storytelling tools these social actors use to reproduce New York City's history, culture, and meaning—eight tricks of the trade. As illustration of this social world and the practices within it, description of a Grand Central Terminal tour is woven throughout the analysis in a series of vignettes.

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Correspondence to Jonathan R. Wynn.

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Wynn, J.R. Guiding Practices: Storytelling Tricks for Reproducing the Urban Landscape. Qual Sociol 28, 399–417 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11133-005-8365-2

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Keywords

  • urban culture
  • storytelling
  • tourism
  • everyday life