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Volume 3, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 2042-7913
  • E-ISSN: 2042-7921



Are today’s socially defined limits to function, behaviour and action, historically contested in places where locals and visitors meet and socialize, such as hotels and boarding houses? In this article, critical realism is used to frame an archival search for the antecedents of contested issues of image and identity in the hospitality industry. Findings from the accommodation sector in two spa towns in colonial New Zealand (1880–1920) identify the presence of issues that are still contested today, for example: behaviours such as social display; ambiguous roles for women and indigenous Maori; actions such as the consumption and regulation of alcohol; and the functions of accommodation, food and beverage, entertainment and commercial services. This article fills a gap in the academic literature regarding the use of historical analysis in hospitality and the identification of long running contestations of image and identity in the industry that should be addressed in the contemporary world.


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