DFG Project "Neighbourhoods in the tourist trap?"
An examination on the changing residential quality through tourist accommodations in selected residential neighbourhoods in Berlin.
In recent times, urban tourists have not only been attracted to classic tourist attractions, they are also increasingly looking for local ‘authentic’ lifestyle. More and more, this practice includes tourist accommodation in inner-city residential areas. In academic discourse, this phenomenon has been summarized under the term ‘new urban tourism’. On the one hand, this form of tourism enforces the frequency of contact between residents and tourists, while, on the other hand, these two groups increasingly compete for residential space. Since the 1990s, tourism as an economic sector has remarkably grown and Berlin registered some of the highest growth rates of tourist accommodation in Europe. Furthermore, Berlin is characterized by a dynamic real estate market with strongly rising prices.
On a micro-level, the project examines how the increasing tourism has changed the residential quality in the neighborhoods, and which narratives are constructed and used to explain these perceived changes. For this purpose, in four Berlin residential areas with different densities of (in)formal tourist accommodation, semi-structured, qualitative interviews with residents will be conducted. In a second step, the acquired data will be discussed in on site forums with focus groups of inhabitants, and in these forums, merged, compared and tested for plausibility. Parallel to this, on a meso-level, shifts and changes in the supply, demand and rent level structures in the respective areas will be analyzed on the basis of existing market data. Furthermore, a mapping of the local infrastructure in the respective neighborhoods will be conducted and compared with the situation ten years earlier. To validate and recognize possible discrepancies, the material will be set in relation to residents’ perceived changes of residential quality. On a macro-level, the project takes the role of public discourse into consideration: A media analysis of different local, regional and international newspapers and urban blogs will assess their impact on the discourse in the selected neighborhoods on the perceived residential quality. Furthermore, the research will be presented and discussed in a public Open Space and linked to local policy.
The project is located at the intersection of sociology and real estate economics and consequently follows an interdisciplinary approach. In this process, it draws on a mix of quantitative and qualitative research methods. The interdisciplinary and cross-methodological perspectives enable an in-depth analysis of a social change and, by including residents’ perspectives, makes an objective contribution to the currently under-researched topic of residential quality. Furthermore, the project contributes to the discourse on ‘touristification’, a debate which has been charecterised by polemic and emotional discourse.
The project "Neighbourhoods in the Tourist Trap?" is conducted in collaboration with the Department of Urban Sociology and Sociology of Space , TU Darmstadt, Prof. Dr. Sybille Frank.