The concept of overtourism rests on a particular assumption about people and places common in tourism studies and the social sciences in general. Both are seen as clearly defined and demarcated. People are framed as bounded social actors either playing the role of hosts or guests. Places, in a similar way, are treated as stable containers with clear boundaries. Hence, places can be full of tourists and thus suffer from overtourism. But what does it mean for a place to be full of people? Indeed, there are examples of particular attractions that have limited capacity and where there is actually no room for more visitors. This is not least the case with some man-made constructions such as the Eiffel Tower. However, with places such as cities, regions or even whole countries being promoted as destinations and described as victims of overtourism, things become more complex. What is excessive or out of proportion is highly relative and might be more related to other aspects than physical capacity, such as natural degradation and economic leakages (not to mention politics and local power dynamics).

Does "in general" modify "tourism studies and the social sciences" or does it modify only "the social sciences"?

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    This isn't a matter of language (the actual syntax is inherently ambiguous) - it's just logic. Since "tourism studies" is a subcategory of "the social sciences", it doesn't make sense for "in general" to apply to both of them. Logically, it can only apply to the social sciences. Dec 12, 2023 at 2:43

1 Answer 1


I believe it just modifies 'social sciences'.

The assumption referred to in your text is about overtourism - something that one would expect 'tourism studies' would address quite specifically.

The social sciences include sociology, anthropology, archaeology, economics, human geography, linguistics, management science, communication science, and political science. That is a very broad range of fields, and while some might touch on the subject of tourism from an economical or anthropological point of view, I would not expect them to deal with something so granular about tourism. What I think it is saying is that the same basic assumptions about people and places falling strictly into one category or another are made throughout those other studies in a more general way.

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