Tourism, female entrepreneurs and gender: Crafting economic realities in rural Greece

by Fiona Eva Bakas

Institution: University of Otago
Year: 0
Keywords: gender; tourism; entrepreneurship; Greece; economics; feminism; critical; ethnography; handicrafts
Record ID: 1315499
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10523/5381


This thesis utilises feminist economics theory to investigate gender and tourism development by exploring the economic relations associated with the services that maintain human life. Often, tourism development programs with a gender focus attempt to promote women’s involvement with tourism by encouraging them to produce handicrafts for tourism retail. However, female tourism entrepreneurs face unique challenges such as seasonality and 14-hour days which affect how they negotiate the activities needed to reproduce human life on a daily basis, and inter-generationally, which include household duties. These activities, referred to in political economy literature collectively as ‘social reproduction’, are used here as a lens through which to examine the relationship between entrepreneurship and gender roles and relations within tourism development. This relationship is investigated using participant observation and interviews held with tourism handicraft entrepreneurs in Greece from June to December 2012 and thus in the context of a macro-scale economic crisis. Thematic analysis shows that the type of tourism development affects entrepreneurship bringing to the fore the importance of time in gender role negotiations as collective entrepreneurs re-distribute time amongst themselves rather than intra-generationally, thus prompting for less gender role negotiation than individual entrepreneurs. Indeed tourism-induced time scarcity adds value to social reproductive activities, whilst women use ‘domestic inaction’ as a negotiation tool to achieve an equal distribution of economic activities. The identification of a liminal gender re-negotiation period at the end and beginning of the season that prompts seasonal gender role negotiations adds an interesting dimension to the perceived impacts of seasonality. In addition, the economic crisis is prompting women to ‘recruit’ their husbands into handicraft tourism entrepreneurship as a solution to male unemployment, the gender implications for which are discussed. Future research could benefit from investigating men’s and children’s roles in tourism entrepreneurship and how these act upon negotiations of gender roles. Finally, this study raises methodological questions regarding the knowledge constructed in participant observation that includes a pedagogical element.