Identity shows the origin and focus of a person's values. People define their social identity by joining different social groups. Social background, social interactions and gaining different experiences are the main fields of forming people's social identity. Tourism industry as a service industry whose development brings many economic, social and cultural changes for a society and human interactions play an important role in it, can have a significant impact on the formation of people's identity and their identity changes. Experiencing new opportunities through development of tourism can affect how women know themselves and rebuild their identity. The development of tourism creates job opportunities for women, which has a great impact on the perception of others about the traditional roles of women, so that women are no longer expected to do only domestic work. As a large part of the workforce in the tourism industry, women are exposed to identity changes and transformations by being members of different groups and working in the new context of tourism, which is sometimes in conflict with their traditional values.The main goal of this research is to provide a thematic network analysis of the identity construction of women working in tourism, and specifically women working in ecolodges of Kerman province. In this regard, based on the interpretive approach, qualitative methodology has been chosen, and answers to the research questions and objectives have been chosen based on ethnography. The purpose of interpretivism is to know how the research subject understands her life. This approach seeks to create and develop the understanding of social life and to discover how people experience their lives and create meaning in different situations. In ethnography, four types of topics are usually researched: perspective, relationship, interaction and identity. This study seeks to construct the identity of women working in tourism.
In ethnographic research, the sample size is different based on the time, the studied people and the research field. In this research, the sample size was selected based on the fact that the people have experience in establishing and working in one of the ecolodges of Kerman province and have enough time to answer the questions as well as personal desire. This group of women was selected as the informants of the research and the in-depth interview with them continued until theoretical saturation was reached. The researcher reached theoretical saturation after conducting fifteen interviews, however, she continued the interviews to twenty women. Necessary criteria for the selection of informants, including compliance with the maximum diversity of people in terms of age, education, social class, religion, ethnicity, city of residence and geographical area of residence, have been taken into consideration.
Attride-Stirling theme network analysis was used for data analysis. In the six-step process of analysis, 88 initial codes were reduced to 33 basic theme, 13 organizing themes, and a global theme of "women's identity transition from traditional dependence to modern independence in the context of tourism". The analysis of the theme network indicates that the experience of new opportunities through the development of tourism along with the positive and negative lived experiences of women in the past and now, as well as the activity in the existing social and cultural context, which includes the transformation of women's gender identity, women's beliefs in identity building, deconstruction cultural and social and feeling the need for change, leads to the construction of identity in different dimensions, including emotional construction of identity, psychological construction of identity, construction of communication identity, construction of local identity, construction of occupational identity, construction of economic identity, construction of dignity identity and construction of socially independent identity. These identity processes are the result of the interaction of women who have been involved in personal issues in the field of family institutions before entering the world of tourism, with the endless world of tourism and its various managerial, political, economic, cultural and social aspects.
In addition to presenting a female identity model in the context of tourism, this research is an intermediate link between the studies of women, tourism and identity, which has not been addressed so far and raises new issues in the field of women, society and tourism. Issues that may not have been able to be discussed until now due to the weak role of women in social fields, and now due to the increasing presence of women in this industry, can be studied. These issues are actually issues that can be proposed in the field of tourism management and sociology of tourism with the identity changes of women, and future-oriented approaches in the field of tourism are forced to continuously study the behavioral and identity changes of women in this field in order to be able to plan and make policy in this field in a favorable way. On the other hand, one of the main results of this study is provided platform of tourism to show the social and cultural dimensions of women in the society, as well as depicting the feminization of social life in a noticeable and gradual way.
Key Words: Ecolodge, Identity, Kerman province, Thematic analysis, Tourism, Women