Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Airbnb, Technological Change and Disruption in Barbadian Tourism: A Theoretical Framework

Lorde, Troy and Joseph, Tennyson S D (2018): Airbnb, Technological Change and Disruption in Barbadian Tourism: A Theoretical Framework. Forthcoming in: Third World Quarterly

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This paper focuses on how Airbnb, an internet platform which has created the possibility for mass participation in the tourism market, is resulting in class conflict between new entrants and the ‘traditional’ tourism industry. Specifically, it studies how traditional tourism interests in Barbados have responded to Airbnb by seeking to restrict participation in the industry and presents this as a microcosm of broader class transitions and conflicts associated with new technologies. The paper utilises a Marxist theoretical perspective buttressed by Joseph Schumpeter’s theory of ‘creative destruction’ – places emphasis on the process of destroying productive systems to understand how specific industries expand and survive – and Clayton Christensen’s notion of ‘disruptive innovation’ – a process by which a disruptive product transforms a market – for studying how transformations in technology are impacting the tourism industry in Barbados. Its aim is to provide an account of how the process of disruption is unfolding in Barbados by highlighting the reactions of the main hotel lobby group to Airbnb, while also applying the ideas of Marx, Schumpeter and Christensen as useful theoretical lenses through which to examine the unfolding of the process of disruption of settled class and historical control of a dominant economic sector by new technologies.

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