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The sharing economy and the cultivation of homeliness in tourism. A study of domestic cosmopolitan fantasies in Airbnb (RDF20/BL/MOS/OBRADOR)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, January 24, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Airbnb is the most successful and controversial example of the sharing economy in tourism. Its rapid growth has changed the way hospitality is organised, breaking the conventional relations between hosts and guests in tourism. Central to these network forms of hospitality is a cosmopolitan fantasy of being at home in the world. Staying in private dwellings is seen as an opportunity for tourists to create new ties with locals. Not surprisingly, the sharing economy has been critiqued for promoting the commodification of everyday ‘local life’. Homeliness and domesticity have been conspicuously absent in tourist studies, which leaves no room for thick sociality (Obrador 2012). For many, tourism is an act of dwelling (Obrador 2003) that is central to the cultivation of a sense of home and domesticity. There is a need to unpack the myriad of home making practices, rituals of domesticity, feelings of homeliness on the road that these new forms of network hospitality afford.

This PhD Project is concerned with notions of homeliness and domesticity in network forms of hospitality. The aim is to establish a relationship between the business model of the sharing economy in tourism and new modes of urban dwelling and being with others, which emphasise domesticity and mundanity. Establishing this relationship will help to demonstrate the extent the growth in the sharing economy in tourism depends on the cultivation of cosmopolitan sense of home away from home. This PhD project will develop a netnography of various sharing economy related sites in selected cities around the world. The aim here is to develop an understanding of social and cultural interactions between host and guest within contemporary digital communications contexts. Methods used will range from discourse and visual analysis of sharing online hospitality platforms to digital and face-to-face conversations with hospitality users and providers.

Eligibility and How to Apply

Please note eligibility requirement:

- Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
- Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
- Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see:

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. RDF20/…) will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: Friday 24 January 2020.

Start Date: 1 October 2020.

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality.

Funding Notes

The studentship is available to Students Worldwide where a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2019/20, this is £15,009 pa) and full fees.


Obrador P. (2019) A Real Junk Food pop-up Café: Embedding experiential learning into the curriculum. Hospitality & Society.

Obrador P. & Vives, A. (2019). Festive traditions and Tourism in Mallorca: Ludic transgression and the disruption of otherness. Tourist Studies.

Obrador, P. (2017). The end of sustainability? A note on the changing politics of mass tourism in the Balearic Islands. Journal of Policy Research in Tourism, Leisure and Events, 9 (2), 205-208.

Obrador, P. (2012). The place of the family in tourism research: domesticity and thick sociality by the pool. Annals of Tourism Research, 39 (1), 401-420.

Obrador, P. & Carter, S. (2010). Cultural geographies in practice: art politics memory: Tactical tourism and the route of anarchism in Barcelona. Cultural Geographies, 17 (3), 1-7.

Obrador-Pons, P. (2009). Building castles in the sand: re-positioning touch on the beach. Senses and Society, 4 (3), 195 – 210.

Obrador Pons, P. (2007). A haptic geography of the beach: naked bodies, vision and touch. Social and Cultural Geography, 8(1), 123 -141.

Obrador Pons, P. (2003). Being-on-holiday: tourist dwelling, bodies and place. Tourist Studies, 3 (1), 47-66.

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