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Struggling with the leisure class: tourism, gentrification and displacement

Cocola Gant, Agustin 2018. Struggling with the leisure class: tourism, gentrification and displacement. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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This research explores the socio-spatial impact of tourism in a central neighbourhood of Barcelona. Tourism is a significant cause of neighbourhood change in several places but research on the impact of urban tourism remains scarce. The research argues that a process of tourism gentrification is taking place. From a political economy perspective, the dissertation combines demographic analyses with ethnographic fieldwork and reveals that tourism leads to different forms of displacement. In addition, the research relates neighbourhood change driven by tourism with leisure migration. By doing so, it sheds light on understanding a growing process of transnational gentrification. By putting into conversation gentrification and tourism, the dissertation contributes to both strands of research. Firstly, it points to a geography of tourism gentrification that has been overlooked by research. This provides an alternative understanding of gentrification that differs from conceptualisations originating from the Anglo-Saxon world. Secondly, it shows why the leisure industry in cities should be understood as an example of accumulation by dispossession. In this regard, the research suggests the need to place tourism at the centre of critical urban theory. The demographic findings show (i) that lifestyle migrants represent the main group of gentrifiers in the area of the case study; and (ii) that the neighbourhood experiences a process of population flight led by the out-migration of Catalan-Spanish residents. The ethnographic fieldwork reveals that population flight results from a process of tourism-driven displacement and an unmistakable change in land use involving the conversion of residential space into a tourist district. Displacement is linked to the growth of holiday rentals and hotels as well as to daily disruptions caused by tourism. Tourism makes residential life increasingly unpleasant. The research identifies a process of place-based displacement in which the impact of tourism is experienced as a sense of expulsion from the place rather than as a process of spatial dislocation.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Geography and Planning (GEOPL)
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Urban Tourism; Gentrification; Displacement; Lifestyle Migration; Barcelona; Airbnb; Public Space; Accumulation by Dispossession; Leisure; Demography
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 20 February 2018
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2019 09:01

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