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CouchSurfing and authenticity: Notes towards an understanding of an emerging phenomenon

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The work presented here first outlines and then theorizes the emergence of CouchSurfing as a trend, as well as an allegedly more authentic form of travel. This article attempts to trace a line from globalization to authenticity, navigating the delicate binaries evident in current tourism research in an effort to fuse the macro-level theorizing to the individuated reflections by CouchSurfers on the phenomenon itself. We discuss homogenization, positive and negative experiences, and how participants individuate their CouchSurfing experience, so that it is uniquely theirs. Examining circumstances and experiences from the perspective of CouchSurfers themselves, an endeavour undertaken too sparingly, we consider the presence of a latent paradox, concerning the degree to which an individual can individuate his or her CouchSurfing experience, within the host/guest dichotomy.

Keywords: CouchSurfing; authenticity; formalization; globalization; hospitality; individuality; informal lodging

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: K.U. Leuven and Flemish Centre for Tourism Policy Studies 2: K.U. Leuven and Interculturalism, Migrations and Minorities Research Centre

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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