Social Capital, Cultural Festivals and Tourism in Catalunya

Anuario Turismo y Sociedad, No. 4, pp. 170-181, 2005

12 Pages Posted: 25 Nov 2009

See all articles by Greg Richards

Greg Richards

Tilburg University

Julie Wilson

Autonomous University of Barcelona

Date Written: 2005


Many studies have highlighted the potentially damaging effects of tourism on local culture. Cultural events in particular seem to be one area of concern, as events visited by tourists may be viewed as “inauthentic” and lose their meaning for local residents. Such arguments tend to overlook the ability of local communities to use tourism creatively as a means of displaying and strengthening their local identity (Friedman, 1994). One of the most important indicators of the resilience of local communities is the level of social capital present in the host population, which is important in creating social cohesion and in ensuring a more even distribution of the benefits of tourism. This paper presents a study of social capital, local networks and tourism in Catalunya. Surveys of local residents and visitors attending fiestas indicate a relatively high level of social capital among local residents, particularly in terms of cultural association membership. There is a direct relationship between membership of associations, active participation in cultural events and positive attitudes towards cultural change and tourism. The research suggests that developing social capital may be one means of developing a more positive relationship between tourism and culture. The role of local associations and networks is crucial to this process.

Keywords: Effects of tourism, local culture, inauthentic, local communities, identity, social capital

Suggested Citation

Richards, Greg and Wilson, Julie, Social Capital, Cultural Festivals and Tourism in Catalunya (2005). Anuario Turismo y Sociedad, No. 4, pp. 170-181, 2005, Available at SSRN:

Greg Richards (Contact Author)

Tilburg University

Postbus 90153
Tilburg, DC Noord-Brabant 5000 LE

Julie Wilson

Autonomous University of Barcelona ( email )

Plaça Cívica
Cerdañola del Valles
Barcelona, Barcelona 08193

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