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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

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Record number 562457
Title The practice of informal tourism entrepreneurs: a Bourdieusian perspective
Author(s) Çakmak, Erdinç
Source Wageningen University. Promotor(en): C. Leeuwis, co-promotor(en): R. Lie; T. Selwyn. - Wageningen : Wageningen University - ISBN 9789463952309 - 204
Department(s) Knowledge Technology and Innovation
Publication type Dissertation, internally prepared
Publication year 2020

Informal economies have been growing, in particular, in the developing world. Nearly two-thirds of the world’s employed population earn their livelihoods in the informal economies. The informal economy entrepreneurs provide essential products and services, enhance supply chains, generate employment, and contribute substantially to the economic and social life of communities worldwide. However, the views of informal entrepreneurs have often been marginalized and the issues affecting them are frequently left unobserved in academic or professional debates. Little is known about the informal tourism economy’s characteristics in the existing literatures and so far, no study has estimated the size of the informal tourism economy. Yet, the informal tourism entrepreneurs enter into tourism markets with important skills, qualities, and attributes - in the forms of economic, social, cultural, and dream capitals - which could be utilized more successfully to enable them to contribute to broader economic development initiatives.

This PhD-thesis, based on in-depth empirical research, investigates how informal tourism entrepreneurs co-construct their informal tourism sector through their practices. Using an interdisciplinary approach (e.g. mainly sociological and anthropological perspective but also an economic one), this PhD-thesis sees the informal sector as a social system in which people continuously shape and reshape their livelihoods, individually and collectively. More specifically, this PhD-thesis investigates how evolving conditions in the tourism field and beyond simultaneously affect the capital deployment and habitus adaptations of informal tourism entrepreneurs and uses the macroeconomic indicators to estimate the size of the informal tourism economy and its relations to the general economy. Accordingly, this PhD-thesis consists of three chapters that depart from an anthropological/sociological perspective, but also includes one chapter that departs from a fundamentally economic perspective. In seeking answers to the research questions, this PhD uses Bourdieu’s theory of practice and creates understanding by

  1. Contrasting the networks of social relations in the field, where informal tourism entrepreneurs take positions or struggle over capital, stakes, and access,

  2. Comparing the different forms of capital owned by informal tourism entrepreneurs, and by

  3. Compiling insights from analyses of informal tourism entrepreneurs’ habitus.

The methodologies adopted in these three chapters are narrative inquiry, discursive thematic analysis and ethnographic field research. In addition, the PhD-thesis consists of a fourth economic chapter and aims to incorporate an economic perspective within a social constructivist approach. Here the attention is paid to macroeconomic indicators and the chapter aims to estimate the size of the informal tourism economy and to advance understanding by evaluating the dynamic interplay between the informal tourism economy and the labour market. The four chapters together thus seek to offer a comprehensive and rigorous analysis of the practice and size of the informal tourism economy.

Thailand is chosen as a context since it is the second largest economy in Southeast Asia, yet with the highest ratio of revenue arising out of the informal economic sector. The primary data has been collected at four different tourist destinations, namely Chiang Mai, which is the second largest city of country, and the top three most popular tourist islands - Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao - located in the south of Thailand.

This PhD-thesis contributes to academics and practitioners in several ways. First, this PhD-thesis offers interventions and hands-on actions to policy makers and destination governors rather than thinking the whole phenomenon holistically and/or analysing it as a set of significations and discourses. Second, it demythologizes the common sense view that informal entrepreneurs are marginalized, traditional, underdeveloped and backward entities, and shows empirically that informal tourism entrepreneurs have important and relevant capitals (e.g. skills, qualities, attributes, and networks), and contribute substantially to the socio-economic world of destinations in achieving their broader sustainable development goals. Third, this PhD-thesis addresses the evolution of informal tourism entrepreneurship from their role of poverty alleviation and survival strategy for unemployment in developing countries to their existence as trusted and socio-economically essential entities of the social system. It calls for inclusive frameworks and hybrid solutions in which informal entrepreneurs are recognised for their benefits to society in academic and professional debates.

To this end, this PhD-thesis offers a more complete understanding of the practice of the informal tourism entrepreneurs and the informal tourism economy and its entrepreneurs’ contribution to national economies.

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