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Id 126
Author Richards, G., ; Wilson , J.,
Title Social Capital, Cultural Festivals and Tourism in Catalunya

Richards, G.; Wilson, J. (2005). Social Capital, Cultural Festivals and Tourism in Catalunya. Anuario Turismo y Sociedad, 4: 170-181

Keywords Local communities; Identity; Social capital; Events participation; Active involvement; Associations; Tourism
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Abstract 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.

Metodology To assess the opinions of local residents, visitors and tourists about the relationship between society, culture and tourism, surveys were conducted at 8 Catalan cultural events.These included major fiestas (or festas in Catalan) such as La Mercè in Barcelona, which attracts over 1.5 million visits each year, and small local events such as the festa major in Salt, a town of 21.000 people in the Province of Girona. A total of 894 surveys completed in from a total of 8 locations in Catalunya. The surveys were mainly concentrated in Barcelona, with a total of 500 completed surveys. The rest were spread around different locations in Catalunya (Salt, Cornella, Sabadell, Santa Coloma, Vilanova i Ia Geltru, Sitges and Roiers). The surveys were collected via self-completion questionnaires distributed to festa participants by the interviewers. Social capital was operationalised in terms of the level of participation in the events concerned (active participation and involvement with event organisation) and wider participation in associations. Respondents were therefore asked what role they had taken in the event and whether they were members of different types of associations. Interpersonal trust was measured through a question on the attitude of residents towards visitors, and a question for visitors on the extent to which they felt welcome in the area.

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