The sociology of intimate tourism: Paula Bialski

Have you even been couchsurfing? Met new friends whilst travelling? Used a travel-share website? Sleeping on a friend’s – or acquaintance’s – floor while visiting a new place? If you’ve done it, chances are, a sociologist somewhere has studied it (and if not, you should go ahead and study it and tell us about it!). Sociologist Paula Bialski who did a fascinating ethnographic study of CouchSurfing (the biggest hospitality exchange network) calls this intimate tourism or emotional tourism. In this edition of Thinking Aloud  on BBC Radio 4 from 12 November 2012, Paula Bialski talks about the sociology of intimate tourism.

Paula is a Polish-Canadian sociologist who received her PhD from Lancaster University where she worked under the supervision of Prof. John Urry and Dr. Monika Buscher. She has researched mobility, tourism, and friendship and social networking, and the implications of the internet on offline interaction, friendship, trust, and social capital. Her new project Low Budget Urbanity, studies low-cost transport issues through Couchsurfing and ridesharing systems. Paula is also part of the awesome band “Paula & Karol” ( band!

Do check out Paula’s sociology blog where she writes field notes and thoughts about the sociology of intimate tourism (and lots of other interesting things). She  also published her research in the book Becoming Intimate Mobile.

Categories: Research Profiles

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