Destructive creation: capital accumulation and the structural violence of tourism

Bram Büscher*, Robert Fletcher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

94 Citations (Scopus)


Tourism is not merely a capitalist practice but a central practice through which capitalism sustains itself. Precisely how tourism “products” become capital and the types of violence this process entails, however, has not yet been systematically theorized or investigated. Building on Noel Castree's six principles of commodification, we explore how tourism becomes capital, understood as “value in motion”, and how this process not only provokes various forms of material violence but can become a form of (structural) violence in its own right. Based on research in tourism settings in Southern Africa and Latin America and general trends in international tourism, we argue that three integrated forms of structural violence to both humans and non-human natures are especially prominent, namely the systematic production of inequalities, waste and “spaces of exception”. As a global industry crucially dependent on integrated material and discursive forms of value creation, we also show that these forms of structural violence are often rendered invisible through branding. We conclude that tourism uniquely combines these three forms of structural violence to enable a move from Schumpeter's famous creative destruction to “destructive creation” as a key form of violence under capitalism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)651-667
JournalJournal of Sustainable Tourism
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • capital
  • inequality
  • Tourism
  • value
  • violence
  • waste


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