NS29 Session 19

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Title: The masses and crowds in tourism research and mobilities: upscaling sustainability?

Organiser: Vilhelmiina Vainikka

Affiliation: Aalborg University


This session calls for various creative and innovative contributions to challenge and develop the multi-ontological notions of the masses and crowds in tourism scholarship. Mass tourism is often associated with connotations of a disruptive force, superficial consumption or a symbol of democratization of tourism (e.g. Vainikka 2015; Harrison & Sharpley 2017). I argue that the masses and crowds are a topical challenge for contemporary societies, entailing (not exhaustively) the upscaling of sustainability and climate change mitigation measures, the governance of mass mobilities (overtourism, migration), social movements mobilizing crowds (populism and climate activism) as well as digital mass technologies. Since the rise of mass tourism, masses and crowds have been assigned with various meanings over time and across different contexts (Butcher 2017). Whether the masses or crowds are treated as victims, threats or agents of social change is relevant issue to address, because of wide ranging spatial and material consequences beyond discourses. The traditional ideas of crowds as irrational or rational should be investigated as mutually inclusive (Borch 2012), and applied in various contexts from crowd management to crowds as an experiential issue (Tutenges 2015, Rickly 2019).

This session warmly welcomes diversity of contributions including:

- Theoretical and conceptual developments of mass and/or crowd theories
- Methods and methodologies, qualitative or quantitative
- Experiencing the crowds, crowd management
- Technology and the masses/crowds
- Sustainability and the masses/the crowds
- Imitation and individuality in tourism; elite vs mass
- Politics and the masses, social movements
- Moods, affective dimensions of mobilities
- Representations and mediatization of mass mobilities


Borch, C. (2015). The politics of crowds: An alternative history of sociology. Cambridge.
Butcher, J. (2017). Morality of mass tourism. In Harrison, D. & Sharpley, R. (eds.). Mass tourism in a small world. CABI.
Tutenges, S. (2015). Pub crawls at a Bulgarian nightlife resort: a case study using crowd theory. Tourist Studies
Vainikka, V. (2015). Rethinking mass tourism. Professional discourses on mass tourism and destinations. Nordia Geographical Publications. (PhD)
Rickly, J. (2019). Joining the crowd. In Pearce, P. (ed.) Tourist behavior. The essential companion. Edward Elgar.


Abstract submission