Special Issue "Neoliberal Cities: The Touristification Phenomenon under Analysis"

A special issue of Social Sciences (ISSN 2076-0760). This special issue belongs to the section "Contemporary Politics and Society".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 April 2019) | Viewed by 9936

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Aram Eisenschitz
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Social Science, Middlesex University London, London NW4 4BT, UK
Interests: neoliberal cities
Dr. Luís Filipe Gonçalves Mendes
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Institute of Geography and Spatial Planning, Universidade de Lisboa, 1649-026 Lisboa, Portugal
Interests: urban geography

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues, 

The huge growth in international and domestic tourism exemplifies neoliberal politics, as it reflects the global deregulation of land, property, financial, and labour markets; yet, despite the fact that politics touches every aspect of tourism, there is very little work that has been done exploring the nature of this relationship. As a property-based sector, tourism depends upon financialisation to support large-scale investment in transport, accommodation, attractions, and in general urban facilities. In both poor and rich countries, it has developed through land grabs together with extensive liberalisation and privatisation, so that foreign capital may own assets, repatriate profits, uproot existing inhabitants, import labour, and employ it flexibly. At the same time, neoliberal politics has transformed social and political structures in order to create or extend spaces for urban tourism—spaces that are sometimes those colonised by the transnational elite. The process of touristification is particularly intense in the cities of advanced capitalism, especially in the post-crisis period of austerity, affirming tourism as a means of absorbing the huge quantities of capital thrown up by quantitative easing, much of which is directed towards property. Many ex-industrial cities that have taken to tourism have been subsequently opened to gentrification, which has become the ubiquitous solution to economic stagnation; yet, this hides a dark side in its reproduction of socio-spatial inequalities, particularly in the formation of the precariat.

The multi-faceted connection between neo-liberalism and consumerism has seen tourism become even more of a relational and fashion good, which provides status to its users. This is evident in the misleadingly termed “sharing economy”, which appears to be post-materialistic and outside of the mainstream tourism industry, with its emphasis on cosmopolitanism and on the social diversity of inner-city working-class historical quarters; yet, this rests upon online short-rental tourist accommodation platforms such as Airbnb, which have been co-opted by a rentier micro-capitalism, with the slogan “live like a local”. Its impacts are profoundly disruptive to host communities, as tourism-led gentrification distorts the local housing market and reduces the possibilities for citizens to gain the right to housing. It privatises some public spaces and degrades others, while contributing to the deterioration of the quality of urban life in many central districts.  

We invite contributions that explore contemporary tourism in cities as part of the neoliberal project. This could include the following:

  • Processes that construct spaces for urban tourism, such as gentrification, land grabs, urban regeneration, developments in the local and national state, the privatisation of public space, and the financialisation of land and property markets.
  • Processes creating the conditions for urban tourism, such as the transformation of labour markets, the growth of the precariat, changes in democracy, austerity, the surfeit of capital for investment, the ever-growing patterns of hedonistic consumerism, and the rise of the experience economy.
  • Types of urban tourism, such as cultural and heritage tourism, and the ways that history is deployed for the creation of marketing images.   
  • Conceptual issues arising from tourism in cities, such as the right to the city, the nature of citizenship, and changing patterns of class politics.
  • Political reactions to touristification such as grassroots resistance and possibilities of state regulation.
  • Flashpoints in tourism that throw light upon neoliberalism, such as over-tourism, infrastructure development, or state strategies such as the European City of Culture.

Dr. Luís Filipe Gonçalves Mendes
Aram Eisenschitz
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • Neoliberal cities
  • touristification
  • financialisaion
  • privatisation
  • precariat
  • urban tourism

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

Article
“12th Street is Dead”: Techno-Heritage and Neoliberal Contestation in the Maya Riviera
Soc. Sci. 2019, 8(8), 242; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci8080242 - 20 Aug 2019
Viewed by 2190
Abstract
In 2017, the Beats Per Minute (BPM) electronic music festival was banned from Playa del Carmen following a horrific shooting that left five dead and fifteen injured. The city’s response was to crack down on electronic music, arguing the scene posed a unique [...] Read more.
In 2017, the Beats Per Minute (BPM) electronic music festival was banned from Playa del Carmen following a horrific shooting that left five dead and fifteen injured. The city’s response was to crack down on electronic music, arguing the scene posed a unique danger to the safety of the city and that electronic music was not part of Playa’s cultural identity. Those in the scene argued something else was underway, suggesting that the scene was being pushed out of the city to make room for higher end, luxury tourism development. The ousting of electronic music from the city raised important questions about the city’s cultural identity and the direction of tourism development the city would take. This essay takes a critical look at these events, tracing the way Playa’s particular electronic music scene grew to global notoriety as both a cause and consequence of the Maya Riviera’s impressive tourism expansion over the last two decades and how those in the scene believed themselves to be an essential part of the city’s heritage. The city government’s decision to oust BPM reveals how struggles over cultural heritage are at the very heart of how urban space is organized in tourism zones. Using the concept of “contestation”, this ethnographic account demonstrates how disputes over heritage and culture frame important questions of neoliberal, political-economy and can lead to counterintuitive outcomes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Neoliberal Cities: The Touristification Phenomenon under Analysis)
Article
Neoliberal Rome—The Role of Tourism
Soc. Sci. 2019, 8(6), 196; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci8060196 - 20 Jun 2019
Viewed by 2573
Abstract
The primary objective of this paper is to analyze the main characteristics of recent tourism policies in Rome by describing the local modalities through which the neoliberal approach to urban strategies has been implemented. The first section highlights some general features of the [...] Read more.
The primary objective of this paper is to analyze the main characteristics of recent tourism policies in Rome by describing the local modalities through which the neoliberal approach to urban strategies has been implemented. The first section highlights some general features of the city of Rome and its tourism, which are particularly useful for understanding the specificities of neoliberal tourism policies. The paper then proceeds to describe the most clearly defined neoliberal period of the city from 1993 to 2008, when the new Master Plan was drawn up to establish new policies and projects for tourism. The period that followed 2008 was marked by the gradual withdrawal of public action, which on the other hand has left ample freedom to the forces of tourism and globalization. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Neoliberal Cities: The Touristification Phenomenon under Analysis)
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Article
Transnational Political Economy and the Development of Tourism: A Critical Approach
Soc. Sci. 2019, 8(4), 108; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci8040108 - 02 Apr 2019
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1899
Abstract
Following a Marxist and, more specifically, a global capitalism perspective, this paper outlines the peculiar characteristics of tourism to argue that the recent developments of this sector have prominently contributed to the transnational integration and global accumulation of capital. These developments are explored [...] Read more.
Following a Marxist and, more specifically, a global capitalism perspective, this paper outlines the peculiar characteristics of tourism to argue that the recent developments of this sector have prominently contributed to the transnational integration and global accumulation of capital. These developments are explored by using a Marxist conceptual framework, including class and value relations, within a broader ecological context. Taking into account the particular pattern of development and rapid growth of tourism in recent decades, we examine the implications for the uneven and combined development of global capitalism. More specifically, we examine whether the growth of tourism may sufficiently counteract the global over-accumulation crisis, as well as the particular ways in which capital can extract and appropriate rent from tourism. It is broadly argued that the development of tourism tends to increase the unevenness, as well as the inequalities and the instability, of global capitalism and while it seems to apparently relax the current over-accumulation crisis, it rather tends to further exacerbate the unfolding socio-ecological crisis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Neoliberal Cities: The Touristification Phenomenon under Analysis)
Article
Commodifying Lisbon: A Study on the Spatial Concentration of Short-Term Rentals
Soc. Sci. 2019, 8(2), 33; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci8020033 - 25 Jan 2019
Cited by 21 | Viewed by 2803
Abstract
This article explores the relationship between the spatial concentration of short-term rentals in Lisbon’s historic center and the phenomena of uneven development and tourism gentrification. By providing quantitative and qualitative evidence of the uneven geographic distribution of tourist apartments within the municipality of [...] Read more.
This article explores the relationship between the spatial concentration of short-term rentals in Lisbon’s historic center and the phenomena of uneven development and tourism gentrification. By providing quantitative and qualitative evidence of the uneven geographic distribution of tourist apartments within the municipality of Lisbon, it contributes to the study of the new processes of neoliberal urbanization in the crisis-ridden countries of Southern Europe. It argues that the great share of whole-home rentals and the expansion of the short-term rental market over the housing stock are symptoms of the commodification of housing in the neoliberal city. Due to the loss of consumption capacity by the Portuguese society amid crisis and austerity, real estate developers target external markets and local households must compete for access to a limited housing stock with tourists and other temporary city users. The subsequent global rent gap stimulates the proliferation of vacation rentals at the expense of the supply of residential housing, fueling property prices and jeopardizing housing affordability. With Portugal being a peripheral member of the EU and the Eurozone, the vulnerability of local households to the impacts of tourism gentrification is aggravated by the remarkable income gap with their counterparts of the core. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Neoliberal Cities: The Touristification Phenomenon under Analysis)
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