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CouchSurfing as a spatial practice: Accessing and producing xenotopos

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Abstract:

The aim of this study is to analyse the production of space in the CouchSurfing hospitality network in Russia. The article proposes the notion of xenotopos, which literally means 'the place of strangers', in order to capture the relational dynamics of host and guest interactions and their co-present experience of space, time and life rhythms. The article examines the interaction between the spatial knowledge of the host and of the guest in order to see how the sharing of this knowledge affects the spatial trajectory of the guest. The article also considers the potential applicability of the concept of rhythm in the analysis of CouchSurfing as a spatial practice. The findings suggest that CouchSurfing allows users to open up new spaces of hospitality situated away from conventional tourist circuits by accessing local knowledge and grasping local life rhythms, both of which become essential intangible aspects of the CouchSurfing experience.

Keywords: Russia; access; knowledge; rhythm; spatial practice; xenotopos

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/hosp.1.3.227_1

Affiliations: CIES-ISCTE-IUL

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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