Hospitality codes and social exchange theory: the Pashtunwali and tourism in Afghanistan

Andrea B. Coulson, Andrew C. MacLaren, Stewart McKenzie, Kevin D. O'Gorman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)
355 Downloads (Pure)


The Afghan people are shrouded in rumor, myth and superstition. Drawing upon insights from military personnel, intelligence operatives, journalists and others, this study uses Social Exchange Theory (SET) to frame our understanding of their underpinning cultural code, the Pashtunwali. The study contributes both theoretically and empirically: The nature of the Pashtunwali highlights that SET cannot adequately frame some cultural exchange practices and a hybrid framework for negotiated and reciprocal exchange is presented. Furthermore, contextually, this is the first study that explores a code of hospitality through a social exchange lens to explore potential tourism development. A framework exists upon which commercial activity can be built without altering beliefs, social dynamics or day to day pursuits. For commercial development to be successful, it must yield similar or greater levels of income to those that currently exist, more importantly, traditions of autonomy and self-dependence will affect employment and training within an emergent tourism industry.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)134-141
Number of pages8
JournalTourism Management
Early online date7 May 2014
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2014


  • Afghanistan
  • post-conflict development
  • social exchange theory
  • hospitality
  • tribal customs


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