Contested Experiential Spaces in Urban Destinations: A Case Study from Barcelona, Spain

Friday, 20 July 2018: 08:30
Oral Presentation
Erdinç ÇAKMAK, Breda University of Applied Sciences, Netherlands
Herman MEIJERS, Senior Lecturer, Netherlands
Simone MORETTI, Independent Researcher, Italy
This article examines the social conflict between the stakeholders and visitors in Barcelona, Spain. Receiving more than 30 million visitors annually, Barcelona, a city of 1.6 million residents, has been reported broadly in the (inter)national media with the protests by its residents. The study takes its theoretical departure in Emerson’s social exchange theory and focuses on the contested experiential spaces of residents and visitors in an urban context. In line with an emic ethnographic approach, interviews with visitors and local stakeholders were held in order to identify their experiential meanings towards the urban spaces in the city. In addition, visual materials including photographs and films were collected and analysed. Findings demonstrate the existing complexity of an overall sentiment of invasion, widely perceived by the residents of the city. The study proposes a model that deconstructs the sentiment into three interrelated levels of perceived invasion, namely physical invasion, capital invasion, and socio-cultural invasion, and suggests a three-step plan to the urban policy makers to prevent the insurgence of a possible sentiment of invasion among the residents and stakeholders in a city.