REPRESENTATIONS OF THE AZORES: A METHODOLOGICAL TRIANGULATION BETWEEN AN HIERARCHICAL EVOCATION ANALYSIS AND A PHENOMENOGRAPHIC ANALYSIS
The search for what is unique and specific in each place is increasingly opposed to the globalization of the tourist market. But what will be more valued and considered genuine in the Azores? Who is born, lives or visits the Azores will answer this question in the same way? Knowing the representations of different interlocutors is crucial to the planning and management of tourism in the Region, by guiding the design of dissemination devices of the archipelago in the world. In the scope of research on Place Identity and Place Attachment, the project @AZORES: Representing & experiencing authenticity aims to unveil the meanings attributed and experiences associated to the Azores by natives, residents and tourists, through a mixed method research approach. This communication will present the objectives and methodological options of the various phases of the project and discuss the proximity versus diversity of representations about the Azores of citizens with diverse relationships with the place. For this purpose, data were collected on a free association of words, elicited by the stimulus word “Azores”, in an online survey underway, with an intentional snowball sampling. In the social representation of the Azores, according to the data collected so far, the attributes "nature", "beauty" and "house" stand out with higher frequencies and lower orders of recall. These are supplemented, at the level of the 1st periphery, by the concepts of "sea", "green", "peace" and "tranquility". The "well-being" incorporates alone the zone of contrast of the representation, although little mentioned.
The evocations of the participants are subject to a methodological triangulation that confronts the results of two descriptive analyzes with different purposes and interpretative emphasis: a structural one and a phenomenological one. The analysis of evocations falls within the scope of the Central Core Theory of Social Representations and is performed with the program Evocation 2003. The phenomenological analysis, adopting the constitutionalist perspective, within the theory building family of the interpretivist paradigm, proceeds to the characterization of the qualitatively different ways in which people perceive, understand and give meaning to the Azores. The compatibility of the results of both analyzes is appreciated within each group of participants: natives, residents and tourists. Methodological implications are inferred about the relevance and usefulness of the meanings produced by the two techniques and the suitability and feasibility of each of them in the analysis of the identity of a place, a less studied side than the identification with a place, but with potential implications in several fields of action. In this sense, possible applications of the results in the tourism promotion of the Azores are explored.