Poststructural political economy approach to sustainability transformations in tourism destinations

Authors: Outi Kulusjärvi*, University of Oulu
Topics: Tourism Geography
Keywords: critical tourism geography, poststructural political economy, diverse economies, path creation, economic agency
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Chairman's Boardroom, Omni, East
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Critical tourism geography has highlighted how tourism development is geographically uneven; while it benefits certain actors in certain places, it is characterized by power hierarchies and unsustainable use of natural resources. For tourism economy to serve people and not vice versa, politico-economic change is called for.

The regulatory role of governments has been regarded as crucial in steering economy towards more just and sustainable basis. Yet, it is also pointed out how governments tend to increasingly take a role of a promoter of economy as neoliberal logics dominate. Some scholars explain this by the co-constitution of the capitalist economy with the nation states. Thus, it seems necessary to seek also alternative, more pragmatic ways for facilitating path creation towards sustainability.

To do this, I draw on poststructural political economy (Gibson-Graham, 2006) combining it with evolutionary economic geography perspectives. Qualitative case studies were conducted in northern Finland to gain empirical understanding on economic agency of local tourism actors.

The study brings into the light the alternative, less growth-focused economic thinking that exists in destinations. To foster social justice locally and critical sustainability globally, it is crucial to facilitate path creation of those economic actors who are already now motivated to act for alternative political economies in their communities but are currently not heard. That is, ‘economic difference’ inside capitalism is created and fostered not only in official political structures but also in place-based economic subjectivities, everyday relations and community politics.

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