Tourism in the Sustained Hegemonic Neoliberal Order

Dominic Lapointe, Bruno Sarrasin, Cassiopée Benjamin


Sustainable Development (SD) has become a unifying concept that transcends conflicting discourses. Over time it has become a fundamental political concept in the current world order. This paper explores the structures that (re)produce the world-system in which tourism is embedded. Following Fletcher’s (2011) demonstration of tourism as a force of capitalist expansion, we will refer to the concept of the International Political Economy (IPE) to discuss how the world-system has been structured and institutionalized. It appears fundamental to understand this path to face the actual IPE construct in which we see tourism grow year after year in scale and scope. The shift towards neoliberalism as a main narrative has been vastly discussed (Harvey, 2007; Brown, 2015; Mosedale, 2016) but we will turn to the Hardt and Negri’s Theory of Empire (2000). We will first consider the question of how sustainable development, within its virtuous global reach, is in fact, a primarily Empire-like discourse, especially when it is carried by International deterritorialized institutions. The second question we will address is the role of tourism in the moments of Empire processes of transformation and globalisation. We conclude that tourism is contributing to the main process of globalization and the market dominance of neo-liberalism expressed in Empire. If there is different strand of thought and research that advocates tourism and sustainable development as a locus of change in the economic and world system, it has only had limited success at the margins, while discourses of globalization and mass tourism keep going strong.


Tourism industry, International political economy, Empire, Biopower.

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