TOURISM PRACTICES AND SOCIETY | Università degli studi di Bergamo - Didattica e Rubrica


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Didattica Convenzionale
Secondo Semestre
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Educational goals

The module of “Sociology of tourism” (cod. 44144 – Mod1), 5 cfu, is part of the course “Tourism practices and society” (cod. 44144 – ENG), 10 cfu.
The course aims to provide an overall understanding of trends, challenges, ethical issues and socio-environmental responsibilities of the tourism industry in a globalized world, its impacts on the societal and natural systems, its use of land and resources, its relationship with sustainability, local development and labour conditions. Moreover, students will learn about the main research approaches within the sociology of tourism field.
After completing the course the student has acquired skills relating to concepts and methods of sociological analysis to interpret the emergence, spread and changes of tourism. In particular he/she knows the various theories and techniques for the analysis of tourism demand (motivations, attitudes and dispositions of the "new" tourist); he/she is able to grasp the evolution of the relationship between social systems and their environment, in its natural and social components; he/she is able to identify the factors of alteration of the balance between human societies and the ecosystems of which they are part. In particular, the student will have acquired the ability to develop original ideas about the social and environmental context pertaining the design, planning and management of tourism systems.
The educational goals of the course are consistent with those of the Master in Planning and Management of Tourism Systems which are located in the learning units in question, with reference to CUN area 14, which addresses the complex field of tourism both as a generator and as a result of territorial processes, taking into account the new configurations determined by globalization and the policies of planning, participation and governance, in the context of contemporary mobility and global network system.

Course content

The module of “Sociology of tourism” looks at how social changes and social issues influence the tourism sector. The course will provide a sociological overview on leisure and the main research approaches withing the sociology of tourism field. Students will learn about how the main sociological classical and contemporary theories apply to the travel sector, with the exploration of some case studies in Italy and in the United States. Relevant topics: 1. Introduction to the sociology of tourism 2. Sociological research methods within tourism 3. The concept of authenticity and the host-guest relationship 3. Environmental sociology and the UN Sustainable Development Goals 4. Tourism and social problems 5. Celebrity culture and tourism 6. Globalization and tourism 7. Sociological analysis of dark tourism 8. Sociological analysis of the impacts of COVID-19 on tourism 9. Critical theory and the sociology of tourism.

The first part of the module of Global Tourism and Local Development focuses on the concepts of development, local development, sustainability, sustainable development, sustainable tourism, and overtourism. The second part of the module aims at offering theoretical and empirical insights on the construction of various types of “heritage” and their relationships with tourism and local development. In particular, through the description of a number of empirical studies in various disciplines (sociology, anthropology, cultural studies, etc.), the course will address the topics of cultural, immaterial, urban heritage, local food heritage; the construction and heritagization of local “authenticity” and the role of international institutions (e.g. the UNESCO) in the definition of cultural heritage; the uses of cultural heritage for tourism and local development; the uses of local food heritage in tourism. The third part of the module focuses on labour in tourism and hospitality sector, giving centre stage to the ‘producers’ of tourism. On the one hand, it analyses the main features of “labour under the tourist gaze” (J. Urry), by taking into consideration the concepts of “emotional labour” (A. Hochschild) and “aesthetic labour”, as well as issues of mobility, migration, space and place in the hospitality industry from a multi-scalar perspective, with particular attention to global value chains, work organisation and workers’ conditions and subjectivities. On the other hand, starting from the idea that quality of labour is one of the main factors in local development, it proposes an analysis of labour conditions in tourism and hospitality sector, through the description and analysis of a number of empirical studies on this issue.

Teaching methods

Lectures, with discussion of concrete cases application and direct dialogue with the students, who will be invited to publicly formulate proposals for further study or debates.

Assessment and Evaluation

The exam of the course “Tourism practices and society” is divided in two parts, one devoted to the module of “Sociology of tourism” and the other to the module of “Global tourism and local development”. For the exam of the module of Sociology of Tourism (cod. 44144-Mod1), students are required to prepare an assignment following the lecturer’s indications. The essay must be delivered to the lecturer by email.
For the exam of the module of Global Tourism and Local Development (cod. 44144-Mod2), students are required to prepare a 4,000-word essay, following the lecturer’s indications. The essay must be delivered to the lecturer by email, at least seven days before the date of the exam session, and will be briefly discussed during the oral exam.
The final grade of the examination is calculated as the arithmetic mean of the two modules.
The exam aims at verifying: the level of knowledge achieved by the student; his/her skills in critical understanding and reasoning. Evaluation criteria include: relevance and completeness, clarity, original thinking, mastery of language and disciplinary lexicon.

Further information

The course “Tourism practices and society” (cod. 44144 – ENG), 10 cfu, is composed by two modules: the module of “Sociology of tourism” (cod. 44144 – Mod1), 5 cfu, and the module of “Global tourism and local development” (cod. 44144 – Mod2), 5 cfu.
The two modules are available as elective autonomous courses as well.
In the case the course is taught in blended learning or remotely, changes can be made compared to what is stated in in this syllabus, in order to make the lectures and exams available also in these ways.