L'Institut de Saint Gervais: recherche-action dans la montagne touristique
New forms of decision-making, Policies and instruments
- This book relates a 3-year research program undertaken in a village and ski-resort of the Mont-Blanc region (France) with a strong involvement of the municipality and the tourist office. This program aimed at producing an analysis of the metamorphosis of a local society and territory along with tourism development, and at giving local representatives some understanding on the ongoing processes. A specific chapter proposes an analysis of the main value system of the local society and its influence on the touristic development of the place. This research underlined the following processes:
- Strong immigration related to the building of a major railway (the terminus of it being within the commune territory) and a highway linking French and Swiss big cities with North Italian cities through the Mont-Blanc tunnel, and to the development of thermal and touristic equipment and housing.
- The existence of a group of people belonging to local families, owning an important proportion of touristic infrastructures, controlling a majority in the municipal council. This group of people, which the authors call “the core group”, share a common “value system” which underlines, for social recognition and local legitimacy, land ownership, economic independence through small firms, ability to create new firms and to combine different professional skills, and knowledge of and attachment to landscape and local territory.
- This group of people, related to this value system, is strongly perceived by the members of this group, and by people remaining out of this group.
- The local economic system appears to be highly influenced by the value system and the related social group. The proportion of self-employed workers is high compared to the national average; a majority of the young people try to settle and find (or create) a job in the place even if they got diplomas which could allow them to get better jobs elsewhere; locally-owned touristic firms have been successful, being able to catch most of the touristic income of the 1960-1980’s period.
- But, for the 1980’s and the stagnation of the touristic market in this part of the Alps, the economic and social relevance of this social and cultural system has proved to be lowering: the people who do not belong to the core group have become more and more numerous, owning more and more touristic firms, without being able to get social and political recognition; the importance given to economic independence in the local culture has proved to become counter-productive since economic stakeholders were unable to adopt collective strategies, however useful to keep the pace with competition with other resorts. Theoretical issues
This papers provides a interesting analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of a strong cultural habitus in a leading social group, and of a strong social and political regulation associated with this habitus. It suggests that the always wider opening of the economic market, and blending of local societies, requires more open and integrative attitudes and policies toward incomers, and more cooperative attitudes for keeping strong ties between inhabitants and local firms.
- Most relevant parts of the publication
- Journal / Publisher / Institution
- Belin, Paris
- Reference to the original publication