The complexities of power theory present a range of challenges for empirical research into power relations and tourism. The elusiveness of power partly stems from its conceptualisation as relational, originating in social interaction and being empowering, restraining and resistive. Lukes (1982) captured the vagaries of power theory when he noted that a reading of existing writings suggests that:

power is something which is possessed; it can only be exercised; it is a matter of authority. Power belongs to the individual; it belongs only to collectives; power doesn’t belong to anyone, but is a feature of social relations. Power usually involves conflict but it doesn’t have to. Power presupposes resistance; power is primarily involved in compliance (to norms); power is both. Power is tied to repression and domination, power is productive and enabling. Power is bad, good, demonic or routine.