Tourism, class and crisis

Eisenschitz, Aram ORCID logoORCID: (2016) Tourism, class and crisis. Human Geography, 9 (3) . pp. 110-124. ISSN 1942-7786 [Article] (doi:10.1177/194277861600900308)

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The academic literature on tourism is focused on its problems – its lack of sustainability, its lack of responsibility, its poor treatment of its workers, its contribution to climate change, terrorism, its environmental impacts, its responsibility for evicting people from their land. It is assumed that these are discrete problems that are soluble – that mass tourism with a responsible face is a possibility. This approach tackles each problem separately and argues that with cooperation, goodwill, a stronger state and an educated public, solutions are possible. In this paper we start with the profits crisis of the early to mid seventies and argue that a range of counter tendencies developed that was able to resist the tendency of the rate of profit to fall. Tourism expanded rapidly with the rise of that neo-liberal class settlement in the eighties because it embodied many of those counter tendencies. It was not, however, just a reflection of neo-liberalism which emerged as the way to restore the rate of profit, but helped to lay the groundwork for it. Tourism’s natural features, its use of space, the relatively small workplace, the use of unskilled labour, are all counter tendencies. In the article it is argued that they are essentially about intensifying class relations and at that stage in the economic cycle they were successful. However the problems that now plague tourism are a result of those trends. The second part of the article looks at how these counter tendencies also have negative effects – that is they are internally contradictory. Class relations in particular are now causing problems. These problems are so severe that it is arguable that the sector is coming up against the limits of accumulation because of the way that it expanded. If one looks at it from capital’s perspective the sector may indeed not be viable, because the externalities that it ignores involves the state in remedial work. Ultimately capital pays those costs but indirectly. Possibly this is an early sign that neo-liberalism itself is reaching the limits to its accumulation.

Item Type: Article
Research Areas: A. > Business School > Marketing, Branding and Tourism
Item ID: 21116
Notes on copyright: Permission granted on 27/02/2017, by the publisher the Institute for Human Geography ( to make the full text of the published article available in this repository ( The published journal is available at
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Depositing User: Aram Eisenschitz
Date Deposited: 18 Jan 2017 16:11
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 21:29

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