It is the land that breaths by its vivid pattern of culture, customs, traditions, and ancestral practices. This vividness resulted in the formation of a nation that has a strong history of evolution and architectural advancement. India is a diverse country with thousands of listed Historic Sites, preserved and maintained by various organizations, but in the last few decades, the increased number of footfalls and other factors of loss are being observed ensuing in the inefficiency of maintenance and tourist management system. This kind of culpability along with other social and religious influences, impacts preservation practice and maintenance of the site. Vandalism by human activities at historic sites has become a major sensitive issue of conservation. This content explores the probable behavioral change for the discouragement towards vandalism of Historic Sites through the engagement of virtual technology. This Paper extends to the framework towards the holistic approach of preventing vandalism through the learning and understanding of values associated with the heritage sites.
With its colorful and versatile heritage, traditions, and customs, India has become a popular country amongst travelers, visitors, and architectural enthusiasts with millions of footfalls recorded on various Historic, Traditional, and Cultural sites each year. India has diversity at its par, right from food, clothing, lifestyle and language, even religion, cast, rituals, practices, and beliefs. Being a secular democratic republic nation, there is respect and acceptance of all kinds of practices performed by anyone within the law.
In recent decades the heritage sites are being used by the film industry for shoots and in a way promoting scenic adherence. This in turn resulted in the rising number of exploratory footfalls, and over the years it has been increased in a large number. This also created a disbalance between the managing committees and the heritage sites.
Despite the growing interest in heritage tourism, there is a surprising lack of understanding of how visitors define a heritage site and what activity of visiting a heritage site means to them. While some researchers have thought heritage to be” undefinable”, others have agreed that different types of heritage and heritage sites are distinguishable, namely, natural heritage, cultural heritage, and built heritage. Still, others have stated that the importance of heritage sites is their potential for educating the public. Yet, however useful they may be, these distinctions have been made by scholars and professionals. Do visitors themselves think of heritage sites in terms of nature, culture, and the built environment as predominantly educational places, or are known about visitors’ experiences with, definitions of perspectives on heritage tourism.
Vandalism: A social behavioral issue
Vandalism is an issue currently affecting a number of World Heritage properties. The term may refer to many types of property damage, such as graffiti, rubbish dumping, smashing off pieces of the heritage, or defacement of other kinds. Although, generally speaking, some acts of vandalism (particularly graffiti) may be seen by some as artistic in nature, this is certainly not the case, when considering World Heritage properties, and may constitute a significant threat to their integrity. Of course, a larger, more willful destruction of property for political or social reasons may also be considered vandalism. Vandalism may sometimes take place as isolated cases or maybe part of a pattern of damage over time. Unfortunately, however, this phenomenon is common in all regions of the world.
The most basic fact that emerges out as the reason for Vandalism is lack of cognizance amongst the tourists in India, also if we look at the old records of our film industry the easiest role that showcases the rich heritage of India usually shoots a romantic scene by carving names on the walls of historic structures. This makes tourists grab quick attention towards the unlawful act of Vandalism on the historic sites. Though eventually the use of such activities has been stopped in the films it has left a huge impact on the psychological behavior of the tourists as these activities are still continuing and have not stopped on the heritage structures.
Vandalism is a social phenomenon that becomes particularly apparent when one looks at the approaches which have been adopted to its investigation. Research into vandalism has tended as a rule to rely on the methodology of sociology and social psychology, despite the fact that the main actors of interest, i.e. the vandals themselves, are difficult to identify. Above all, however, the use of a general framework of social variables corresponding to targets, vandals, or the relationship between the two, highlights the social nature of vandalism.
During the past few years, it has been observed that some structures are still fronting the issue of vandalism despite awareness, this might be due to lack of maintenance and the old graffiti still influence the psychology of the visitors, not only graffiti but the defacing of historic elements still exists and provides excitement amongst some unkind minded visitors.
The most psychologically interesting c use of vandalism which is without tactical, ideological, play or revenge bases are that a senseless act is more reinforced than one that is understandable and predictable. A person makes his mark, gains his rep, is remembered or feared for behavior that is out of the ordinary, unaccountable, and unlikely to be performed by others in the same situation. A Justifiable act of violence or vandalism is situationally determined. Thus, almost anyone under the same situational forces would act similarly. To do a thing (or do in a thing) for its own sake is to show the arbitrariness of your personal power and the purely internal forces controlling the action.
Awareness of Social Responsibility
Tourism research has widely addressed the significance and effect of the concept of place attachment originated from attachment theory, depicting the mother-infant link. This concept relates to “the process whereby an individual’s experiences with both the physical and social aspects of an environment results in the development of strong emotional bonds with that place”. In tourism, place attachment is analyzed as a multidimensional construct, which is constituted of two or more sub-constructs. The first dimension, place identity, refers to the cognitive link between the personal self and a place, representing the identification of the tourist with a certain place or with its symbolic value. The second, place dependence, relates to the functional aspect of place attachment, describing the importance of a specific place for specific activities and needs by tourists. The third, affective attachment, refers to the strong feeling tourists feel towards a place. The fourth, social bonding, relates to the social relations a specific place enhances. The question of whether place attachment is best described by two, or more, components is still open. In tourism, place attachment is also often described as “destination attachment” and linked to visitors’ loyalty to places, behavioral intentions, and pro-environmental behavior.
It is not easy to develop an understanding of the sense of place amongst the visitors. But this psychological understanding can create a huge impact on the discouragement of vandalism. The visitors shall understand the value of the place and the consequences of defacing the heritage.
Impact of Virtual Technology on Psychological paradigm
In recent years the virtual technology has proved to affect the behavior of the user whether it is by visual or audio or by using both simultaneously, Virtual technology provides a complete informative experience of the site and develops an understanding of the sense of belongingness with that site.
Humanity’s legacy can be unlocked and shared between people through digital representations. Digital representations can communicate elements of our cultural heritage in a variety of ways. For clarity, we can define three types that distinguish different uses for these representations, art and entertainment, visualization, and digital surrogates of the world we experience.
Digital content can be fine art in its own right. It can also entertain. This content can also be used to visualize concepts and illustrate hypotheses. For example, a computer animation of a large asteroid impacting the Yucatan Peninsula 65 million years ago is helpful to visualize the cause of worldwide dinosaur extinction. These images are useful not because they faithfully show the shape and color of the actual asteroid moments before impact but because they effectively communicate an idea. Visualizations are speculative in nature to varying degrees. Current research is exploring ways to explicitly describe the extent of this speculation. Digital surrogates serve a different purpose. Their goal is reliably representing real-world content in a digital form. Their purpose is to enable scientific study and personal enjoyment without the need for the direct physical experience of the object or place. Their essential scientific nature distinguishes them from speculative digital representations.
Despite several laws regarding the act of vandalism, the practice is continuously being performed, the reason that strikes the most is uninteresting and less attractive signboards and instructions that create the least connectivity and sense of responsibility of preservation. The probable initiatives proposed in this paper may foresee a creative and interesting arrangement of understanding and induce good and responsible behavior on the Historic sites discouraging the act of vandalism by visitors.
According to the sociology of the visitors performing vandalizing behavior or defacing the heritage property, the act is prominently performed to express the presence or message that could be stopped by following proposed concepts.
- There has to be a proper continuous audio announcement at the entrance of each protected site, describing the consequences of vandalism and providing information about the historic importance of the site;
- There has to be a proper board not only at the entrance but in front of each structure, describing the lawful action that can be taken under the act of vandalism;
- Also, there has to be proper full legal information and code of conduct of tourists that have to be performed by tourists while visiting a site, there has to be deed mentioning that the tourist is bound to follow the code of conduct at the site, this all should be printed on each ticket purchased by the visitors;
- These can make the visitors aware of the unlawful activities that happen on the site and the ways to avoid them;
- Another proposal to change the behavioral psychology of vandalizing activity could be set up at the Information center or interpretation center.
- This can be achieved by giving Virtual reality experiences to visitors, in groups with proper VR gear, and providing information about the site, its importance, and a warning not to deface any of the heritage property;
- There should be a complete VR tour of that particular site provided to the visitors, to make their experience better than the actual site visit. Also, there should be an additional section in the VR experience of the places where the tourists are restricted to reach physically;
- One more proposal that can contribute to increasing the footfall and awareness about the local heritage sites can be attained with the help of audio-visual advertisements;
- This paper also proposes an idea of an advertisement about the unlawful act of defacing and vandalism of places of historic importance. The advertisements should be played at every movie theatre just as the ads of public interest are played.
Just as the state tourism department airs advertisements about the tourist destinations, in a similar way each movie theatre should play an advertisement describing the national importance of the ASI protected monuments at least including the World Heritage Sites identified by UNESCO, and make the audience aware of the unlawful activities performed under vandalism and defacing of heritage property.
This paper discusses and concludes about the behavioral psychology of tourists engaged in defacing and vandalizing the heritage property emerges with an intention of leaving a mark of the presence or a non-subjected message of emotions.
It is not an easy method of composition to guide the unlawfully excited minds but the proposal can contribute to lower down the activities of harm to the Heritage Structures.
The proposals might work as a footstone towards the change of behavioral pattern, built up a sense of responsibility and belongingness. To lower down the harmful activities on the structures the mentality should be changed and if possible one awareness program in every year should be conducted at the school level to create the responsible vision of the future coming generation towards our rich heritage and history associated with it. Striking on the behavior and psychology of all age levels and create awareness has become a necessity to lower down the act of vandalism for a better future of Conservation of heritage in our Country, the proposal mentioned in this paper could give a good start to stop vandalism.
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