‘out of Time and out of Money’: How Female Tourism Micro-Entrepreneurs in Greece Attain Sustainability in a Crisis.

Monday, 16 July 2018: 16:00
Oral Presentation
Fiona BAKAS, Centre for Social Studies, University of Coimbra, Portugal
Handicraft tourism increasingly is conceptualized as a legitimate avenue to encourage women’s engagement in micro-entrepreneurship by development programs which aim at alleviating poverty and promoting gender equality. However, women who become entrepreneurs face conflicting gendered expectations to be primarily responsible for the activities necessary to maintain life on a daily basis and intergenerationally. These activities, referred to in political economy literature as ‘social reproduction’, are used here as a lens through which to examine how female tourism entrepreneurs survive an economic crisis.

As an economic crisis brings on additional pressures to accumulate and options to hire privatized social reproductive help diminish, I investigate how the delicate balance between entrepreneurs’ caring and productive roles is affected. Situating the study in Greece during June-December 2012, I use the ethnographic methods of participant observation and semi-structured interviews with female tourism handicraft micro-entrepreneurs. The analytical approach focuses on how gender permeates and operates within tourism labour, by exploring the ways in which micro-entrepreneurs remain sustainable during a macro-economic crisis. As time is intricately woven into life-processes and the ability to re-distribute time is increasingly valued by neo-capitalist discourses where work hours merge into ‘rest’ hours, I investigate the gendered significance of time in tourism labour.

I find that the female tourism entrepreneurs’ sustainability is highly influenced by gender’s operation at the intersection of economic activities with feminine caring subjectivities, with the economic crisis accelerating intra-familial negotiations to accommodate new economic demands. Female entrepreneurs use intriguing techniques to combat some of the negative effects of the crisis, such as recruiting unemployed husbands into feminised types of handicraft entrepreneurship, and renegotiating household duties in order to have more time to engage in craft-making and selling.