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: 30 April 2019

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Aram Eisenschitz

Middlesex University London
Website | E-Mail
Guest Editor
Dr. Luís Filipe Gonçalves Mendes

Institute of Geography and Spatial Planning, Universidade de Lisboa
Website | E-Mail

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

Manuscript Submission Information

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

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Open AccessArticle Commodifying Lisbon: A Study on the Spatial Concentration of Short-Term Rentals
Soc. Sci. 2019, 8(2), 33; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci8020033
Received: 10 December 2018 / Revised: 16 January 2019 / Accepted: 22 January 2019 / Published: 25 January 2019
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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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