Rural entrepreneurial space and identity: A study of local tour operators and ‘the Nenets’ indigenous reindeer herders

GORBUNTSOVA, Tatiana, DOBSON, Stephen and PALMER, Nicola (2018). Rural entrepreneurial space and identity: A study of local tour operators and ‘the Nenets’ indigenous reindeer herders. The International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation (IJEI), 19 (4), 261-272.

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The tourism industry is a capitalist activity concerned with the production, accumulation and distribution of wealth. Power is an important arena for research in this respect as diverse outcomes for the local economy in general, and its players specifically, provide important aspects to study when considering the lives of rural entrepreneurs. However, it may be argued that whilst Marxist theorists using critical approaches on power have tended to focus on issues around the equality of power relations between actors or stakeholders, the inherently spatial nature of power has received less emphasis. This paper focuses on an exploration of the spatiality of power which surrounds entrepreneurship and tourism industry development. The conceptual framework, based on the application of Lefebvre’s (1991) concepts supplemented by Gaventa’s (2004) power cube, is placed within the broader context of Marx Political Economy and Historical Materialism. The main value of Lefebvre’s (1991) work for the current research is seen in his notion of space as an ‘ensemble’ formed from i) representational space (or our conception of it); ii) spatial practices, which are our interaction with physical and material aspects of space; and, iii) the spaces of representation, or our lived space. They are intertwined dimensions and therefore intradependent (Theobald 1997). These three types of dialectically inter-related spaces are merged into a single ensemble which forms our experience of social space. Gaventa (2006) extends this further with the introduction of power through space and explores the visible, hidden, and invisible forms of power which are negotiated at different spatial scales and which are experienced as closed, invited, or (re)claimed. The case study geographic area examined is in transition from Socialism to Capitalism with the tourism industry at early stages of its development. For this, reason entrepreneurial activity and power struggles over the key business asset, the landscape, are currently being played out. Literature theorising rural entrepreneurship (Marlow et al 2014) and especially the notion of skills and training for diversifying rural enterprise (Vik and McElwee 2011; Pyysiäinen et al 2006) is an important context here. This is particularly born out in the relationships between the indigenous reindeer herders, ‘the Nenets’, local tour operators, and the local government of Yamal in the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug (YNAO) of the Russian Federation which provides the core material. The research has been conducted through an ethnographic field study with indigenous reindeer herder communities as well as interviews with local stakeholders. This allows for insights into the spatiality of power surrounding rural entrepreneurial space and tourism enterprise to be gained.

Item Type: Article
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Cultural Communication and Computing Research Institute > Communication and Computing Research Centre
Identification Number:
Page Range: 261-272
Depositing User: Nicola Palmer
Date Deposited: 05 May 2017 11:34
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 07:16

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