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CouchSurfing and network hospitality: 'It's not just about the furniture'

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This article introduces a collection of ethnographies that develop innovative theoretical and methodological approaches to, a free online hospitality exchange network. The growing popularity of CouchSurfing poses significant questions about the way hospitality is performed in an era of digital communications, online social networking and alternative travel. The studies in this issue bring fresh insights to the sociological and cultural significance of hospitality in a networked world by offering detailed accounts of the new possibilities and new problems that emerge when complete strangers encounter one another online and accommodate one another offline. This article introduces the concept of 'network hospitality' to highlight some of the features that make CouchSurfing and similar social networking sites such a compelling topic of research for critical hospitality studies.

Keywords: CouchSurfing; ethnographies of hospitality; network hospitality; reciprocity; risk; technology

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: College of the Holy Cross

Publication date: February 16, 2012

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  • Hospitality & Society is an international multidisciplinary social sciences journal focusing upon hospitality and exploring its connections with wider social and cultural processes and structures. The journal welcomes submissions from various disciplines and aims to be an interactive forum expanding frontiers of knowledge and contributing to the literature on hospitality social science. Articles that stimulate debate, discussion and exchange across disciplines are welcomed, as well as review essays or short topical pieces that are provocative and problematic in nature.
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