Constructing tourism realities through Lego Serious Play Methodology

Yana Wengel, Cheryl Cockburn-Wootten, Alison J. McIntosh

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


This paper proposes Lego Serious Play (LSP) as an effective creative methodology for encouraging tourism research participants to metaphorically explore their socially constructed reality. This methodological approach has largely been neglected in the Tourism Studies where the importance of understanding tourist identities has been widely discussed. Instead, the prevalence of traditional research-led methods predominate. LSP aims to uncover multiple meanings of socially constructed realities. It is a communication, team building and problem-solving tool used widely in the business sector, education and counselling. Drawing on the work of David Gauntlett (2007), the methodology has largely been used in the corporate context to encourage organisational vision, priorities, identity building and performance. The methodology rests on four pillars: Piaget’s constructivism (1955), and the concepts of play, imagination and identity. LSP applies concepts of ‘play’ to facilitate learning through exploration and metaphorical explanations.
LSP was incorporated into our research on the volunteer tourism exchange programme, Worldwide Workers on Organic Farms (WWOOF). A key objective of this study was to explore and understand how these volunteers viewed their experience, their host-guest relationship, and how they conceptualised the values and ideals of WWOOFing into their own identity construction. The first author visited and participated in the WWOOF experience on ten farms throughout New Zealand. During her stay, she facilitated groups of WWOOFers and their farm hosts to collaboratively build their ideal WWOOF experience using Lego bricks. During the LSP workshop, she asked open-ended questions to encourage their creative thinking. This paper will discuss the LSP methodology, its application into understanding tourist identities, and the challenges and benefits of this approach for researchers. It concludes that LSP offers a useful creative methodology for exploring socially constructed realities that are complex, dynamic and therefore demand a multi-dimensional approach to Tourism Studies.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 27 Dec 2015
Event6th Critical Tourism Studies Conference - , Croatia
Duration: 26 Jun 201530 Jun 2015


Conference6th Critical Tourism Studies Conference


  • lego serious play (LSP)
  • tourism realities


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