The nature of social history
As Laura aptly demonstrates in her book, we are all in one way or another social historians when we travel — unless we are travelling in a bubble. And whether we do it consciously or not, travel makes us behave like social scientists; observing and interpreting, thus gaining a broader frame of reference on human society. Depending on our personal travel styles, when we travel we interact to greater or lesser degree with the “destination” and its history, physical environment, social norms, customs, traditions, linguistic realities, arts, media, and a multitude of behaviourisms. We are surrounded by images, imagery, and cultural signals of all kinds that subtly or overtly alter our perceptions.
Social history has been described as “history from below” and “grassroots history” and there are professional organizations such as The Social History Society in the UK which devote a lot of time and study to understanding all the themes and variations of social history.
But whether you are a professional social historian or just a travel aficionado, you will enjoy this book; it will entertain and inform you. For example, you will learn how and why the travel and tourism industry (often called the largest industry on the planet) evolved as it did. You will get a greater understanding of such issues as developing social trends, economic history, political history, even military history.
You will also gain a greater awareness of the hospitality industry, the pilgrimage phenomenon, the Grand Tour, trade routes, the effect of the Industrial Revolution on travel, and the eventual democratization of the travel industry. Along the way Laura tells us lots of intriguing stories and recounts anecdotes that also explain our species’ tendency to wanderlust.
Above all, you will learn how travel has benefited human society and played a vital economic role in it.