Shifting discourses in Barcelona’s tourism politics. A sociosemiotics analysis of media discourses

A coalition of leftist political groups, civic movements, and grassroots organizations led by social activist Ada Colau has won the Barcelona municipal elections of 2015, and is now governing the Catalan capital. The key issue that determined this success may well have been its critical positioning in relation to city tourism. Until recently considered a best practice in urban regeneration and a successful global destination, Barcelona has lived in the last two years a radical change in the public perception on tourism: from ‘manna from heaven’ to serious issue which is compromising the quality of life of its citizens. This presentation looks into the factors which may have determined this political change. These go from the objective growth of tourism beyond what could be considered a critical threshold for an urban system, to the development of a critical discourse on tourism by the new coalition – attributed to its peculiar constituency and working methods – and the role of the media in airing this discursive shift. In particular the presentation proposes a sociosemiotics approach in the analysis of media coverage of tourism and tourism politics in Barcelona over the last two decades and presents an analysis of the dominant discourses about tourism that circulate in Barcelona’s political arena, with the aim of showcasing the elements that nuance a shift in urban regime: from the enthusiastic boosterism that situated tourism at the core of progressive urbanism fostered by the socialist-led mayoralties in the 1990s and 2000s decade, to the less ambitious idea of the ‘city as brand’ during the years of the CiU municipality in the early 2010, to the critical and ‘reductionist’ approach currently sustained by the Barcelona en Comú administration and its organised constituency. By highlighting the key words, the main actors (the industry, the civic society, the tourists themselves, etc.), the metaphors associated to tourism during such relevant periods for the construction of social meanings within the Catalan society, the presentation will identity the different visions toward tourism and their corresponding values encrusted in the political discourses promoted by four administrations.
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Tipo de publicación:
Paper/Extenso Congresos GIGAPP
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Congreso GIGAPP
VIII Congreso Internacional en Gobierno, Administracion y Politicas Publicas
Madrid, España
Propuesta aceptada Ponencia/Comunicacion 2017-56 Políticas turísticas: propuestas metodologicas
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