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Studying Hospitality: Insights from Social Sciences

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This discussion paper outlines some of the thinking and recent developments in the study of hospitality from a number of different perspectives. The hospitality industry has been used as a word to describe the commercial provision of services associated with the provision of food, drink and accommodation in restaurants, bars and hotels. The paper shows that hospitality is rooted in social engagement which in the past has had a profound impact on the behaviours of societies to travellers and strangers. The paper also suggests that the links between domestic and private settings of hospitality are inextricably interwoven with the commercial provision. Often those destined for careers in hospitality first learn the rules and obligations of hosting and hospitableness in the home. Furthermore, the domestic experience of providing food, drink and accommodation in private dwellings also suggests to many would-be entrepreneurs that they have the skills needed to be successful bar-keepers, restaurateurs, or hoteliers. Commercial hospitality provision has been criticized as offering less than authentic hospitality, a pale sham of the real thing which can only be found in domestic settings offered by hosts who are genuinely hospitable. The paper suggests that it is not inevitable that commercial hospitality is necessarily inauthentic. It is possible to learn from more traditional notions of hospitality and apply these in commercial settings.
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Keywords: Hospitality; commercial hospitality; domains of hospitality; hospitableness

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Centre for Leisure Retailing, Nottingham Business School, Nottingham, UK

Publication date: 2008-04-01

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