Cuba’s casas particulares: an analysis of informality, social capital, entrepreneurship and sustainability

  • Sune Ditlefsen Aalborg University
  • Stephanie Hamilton Aalborg University
  • Elyse Nightingale Meaker Aalborg University
Keywords: Cuba, tourism, informality, sustainability, networks, entrepreneurship

Abstract

As part of the growing tourism industry in Cuba, staying in a private person’s home as a tourist, in what is known as casas particulares, has become increasingly popular. This paper utilizes qualitative, short-term ethnographic methods to research casas particulares (also referred to as casas) and the conditions they operate under. Networks, social capital and collectivism play an important role in the running of casas. These are affected by the entrepreneurial climate, which is unique in Cuba. Likewise, informality is a key element in the running and development of casas. To this, we conclude that the informal economy fills the gaps where formalized resources are not available. Yet, these types of transactions and exchanges are not included in most government strategies. Further, in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), informality is seen as a transition-based development step. We urge governments to be more inclusive in their strategies and consider the opportunities informality can provide under certain circumstances.

References

Bakker, Martine; Twining-Ward, Louise. 2018. Tourism and the sharing economy: policy and potential of sustainable peer-to-peer accommodation. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.

Bonnet, Florence; Vanek, Joann; Chen, Martha. 2019. “Women and men in the informal economy: a statistical brief.” 3rd edition. Manchester, UK: WIEGO/ILO.

Bourdieu, Pierre. 1986. “The forms of capital.” In Handbook of theory and research for the sociology of education, edited by John Richardson, 46-58. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press.

Briassoulis, Helen. 1999. “Sustainable development and the informal sector: an uneasy relationship?” Journal of Environment and Development 8 (3): 213-237.

Chen, Martha A. 2012. “The informal economy: definitions, theories and policies.” WIEGO Working Paper No. 1. Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing, August. <https://www.wiego.org/publications/informal-economy-definitions-theories-and-policies>. Retrieved 17 December 2019.

Clausen, Helene Balslev.; Velázquez García, Mario Alberto. 2018. “The tourism model in post-Castro Cuba: tensions between ideology and economic realities.” Tourism Planning & Development 15 (5): 551-566.

Colantonio, Andrea; Potter, Robert B. 2006. “The rise of urban tourism in Havana since 1989”, Geography 91 (1): 23-33.

Corbett, Ben. 2002. This is Cuba: an outlaw culture survives, Cambridge, Mass.: Westview.

Costa, Carlos; Breda, Zélia; Costa, Rui; Miguéns, Joana. 2008. “The benefits of networks for small and medium sized tourism enterprises.” In Network analysis and tourism: from theory to practice, edited by Noel Scott, Rodolfo Baggio and Chris Cooper, 96-115. Clevedon: Channel View Publications.

Darbi, William P. K.; Hall, C. Michael; Knott, Paul. 2018. “The informal sector: a review and agenda for management research.” International Journal of Management Reviews 20 (2): 301-324.

De la Torre, Augusto; Ize, Alain. 2014. “Exchange rate unification: the Cuban case.” In Cuba’s economic change in comparative perspective, edited by Richard E. Feinberg and Ted Piccone, 103-117. Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institution.

Domenico, MariaLaura Di; Lynch, Paul A. 2007. “Host/guest encounters in the commercial home.” Leisure Studies 26 (3): 321-338.

Feinberg, Richard; Newfarmer, Richard S. 2016. Tourism in Cuba: riding the wave towards sustainable prosperity. Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institution.

Font, Mauricio; Jancsics, David. 2015. “From planning to market: a framework for Cuba.” Bulletin of Latin American Research 35 (2): 147-164.

Fox, Esme. 2015. “Havana homestays get easier to find.” BBC online, 20 July. <http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20150624-havana-homestays-get-easier-to-find>. Retrieved 18 December 2019.

Gaiger, Luiz Inácio. 2019. “From informality to popular economy: distinguishing realities and connecting approaches.” Ciências Sociais Unisinos 55 (1): 97-110.

Gibson, Laila; Lynch, Paul A.; Morrison, Alison. 2005. “The local destination tourism network: development issues.” Tourism and Hospitality Planning and Development 2 (2): 87-99.

Granovetter, Mark. 1985. “Economic action and social structure: the problem of embeddedness.” American Journal of Sociology 91 (3): 481-510.

Häuberer, Julia. 2011. Social capital theory: towards a methodological foundation. Wiesbaden: Springer.

Hingtgen, Nathan. 2013. “Sustaining tourism in Cuba: a qualitative examination of perceived entrepreneurial climate elements among tourism industry professionals.” Unpublished M.Sc. thesis. East Carolina University, Greenville, N.C.

Hingtgen, Nathan; Kline, Carol; Fernandes, Luci; McGehee, Nancy G. 2015. “Cuba in transition: tourism industry perceptions of entrepreneurial change.” Tourism Management 50: 184-193.

Hirschman, Elizabeth C. 1986. “Humanistic inquiry in marketing research: philosophy, method, and criteria”, Journal of Marketing Research 23 (3): 237-249.

ILO (International Labour Organization). 2019. “Informal Economy.” ILO. DW4SD Resource Platform, n.d. [Online] Available at: <https://www.ilo.org/global/topics/dw4sd/themes/informal-economy/lang--en/index.htm>. Last accessed 18 December 2019.

ILO. 2002. “Resolution concerning decent work and the informal economy.” 1 June. <https://www.ilo.org/public/english/standards/relm/ilc/ilc90/pdf/pr-25res.pdf>. Retrieved 18 December 2019.

Jonas, Andrew E. G. 2013. “Interrogating alternative local and regional economies: the British Credit Union Movement and post-binary thinking.” In Alternative economies and spaces: new perspectives for a sustainable economy, edited by Hans-Martin Zademach and Sebastian Hillebrand, 23-43. Bielefeld: Transcript.

Kontogeorgopoulos, Nick; Churyen, Anuwat; Duangsaeng, Varaphorn. 2015. “Homestay tourism and the commercialization of the rural home in Thailand.” Asia Pacific Journal of Tourism Research 20 (1): 29-50.

Kozak, Kim E. 2016. “Everyday encounters: tourists in Cuban casas particulares.” World Leisure Journal 58 (2): 98-108.

Kramer Mark. 2014. “Profit: the New Corporate Motivation to Do Good.” Shared Value Initiative, 30 July. <https://sharedvalue.org/groups/profit-new-corporate-motivation-do-good>. Accessed 20 December 2019.

Kvale, Steinar. 2007. Doing interviews. London: SAGE.

Lakshmanan, T.R.; Chatterjee, Lata. 2004. “Entrepreneurship, innovation and dynamic regional growth: the case of the entrepreneurial urban place.” Working Paper #CTS2004F. Center for Transportation Studies, Boston University. <http://www.bu.edu/transportation/WPSeries.html>. Retrieved 18 December 2019.

Leeuwis, Cees; Long, Norman; Villarreal, Magdalena. 1990. “Equivocations on knowledge systems theory: An actor-oriented critique.” Knowledge in Society 3: 19-27.

Lewis, Sian. 2016. “Informality and inclusive green growth.” International Institute for Environment and Development, 25 February. <https://pubs.iied.org/pdfs/17365IIED.pdf>. Retrieved 18 December 2019.

LSC. 2019. “Casa particulares.” Locally Sources Cuba Tours. <http://locallysourcedcuba.com/cuba-travel-guide/casa-particular/>. Accessed 18 December 2019.

Lynch, Paul A. 2005. “The commercial home enterprise and host: a United Kingdom perspective.” Hospitality Management 24, (4): 533-553.

Lynch, Paul; MacWhannell, Doreen. 2000/2011. “Chapter 6 - Home and commercialized hospitality. ” In In Search of Hospitality, edited by Conrad Lashley and Alison J. Morrison, 100-118. London: Routledge.

Marshalek, Frank. 2016. “Cuban economic reform: small businesses, household economic decision-making, informality, and networking.” Unpublished, Ph.D. thesis, Indiana University, Bloomington.

Martínez, Lina; Short, John Rennie; and Estrada, Daniela. 2017. “The urban informal economy: street vendors in Cali, Colombia.” Cities 66: 34-43.

Mesa-Lago, Carmelo. 2000. Market, socialist and mixed economies: comparative policy and performance -- Chile, Cuba and Costa Rica. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Moscardo, Gianna. 2009. “Bed and breakfast, homestay and farmstay: forms and experiences.” In Commercial Homes in Tourism: an international perspective, edited by Paul A. Lynch, Alison J. McIntosh and Hazel Tucker, 25-37. London: Routledge.

Ouédraogo, Idrissa M. 2017. “Governance, corruption, and the informal economy.” Modern Economy 8: 256-271 .

Potter, Andrea. 2013. “¿Cómo somos?” Varying ideas of Cuban nationalism.” Unpublished M.A. thesis. Texas A&M University, College Station.

Pinillos, María-José; Reyes, Luisa. 2011. “Relationship between individualist-collectivist culture and entrepreneurial activity: evidence from Global Entrepreneurship Monitor data.” Small Business Economics 37 (1): 23-37.

Pink, Sarah; Morgan, Jennie. 2013. “Short-term ethnography: intense routes to knowing.” Symbolic Interaction 36 (3): 351-361.

Progreso Weekly. 2014. “Microbusiness owners can now apply for microloans.” Progreso Weekly, 2 January. <http://progresoweekly.us/microbusiness-owners-can-now-apply-microloans/>. Retrieved 18 December 2019.

Reimer, J. K.; Walter, Pierre. 2013. “How do you know it when you see it? Community-based ecotourism in the Cardamom Mountains of southwestern Cambodia.” Tourism Management 34: 122-132.

Rohr, Elizabeth. 1997. “Planning for sustainable tourism in Old Havana, Cuba”. Unpublished M.A. thesis, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Ribeiro, Nuno F.; Foemmel, Eric W. 2012. “Participant observation.” In Handbook of research methods in tourism, edited by Larry Dwyer, Alison Gill and Neelu Seetarum, 377-392. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

Ritter, Archibald R. M. 2013. “Cuba’s evolving public policies toward small enterprise.” In Handbook of contemporary Cuba: economy, politics, civil society, and globalization, edited by Mauricio Font and Carlos Riobó, 36-49. Boulder, Colo.: Paradigm.

Ritter, Archibald R. M. 2005. “Cuba’s Underground Economy.” Carleton Economic Papers No. 04-12. Carleton University, Department of Economics, 15 May. <https://carleton.ca/economics/wp-content/uploads/cep04-12.pdf>. Retrieved 18 December 2019.

Ritter, Archibald R. M.; Henken, Ted. A. 2015. Entrepreneurial Cuba: the changing policy landscape. Boulder, Colo.: FirstForumPress.

Rogan, Mike; Cichello, Paul. 2017. “Can informal employment actually reduce poverty?” WIEGO Blog, 16 February. <https://www.wiego.org/blog/can-informal-employment-actually-reduce-poverty>. Accessed 18 December 2019.

Ruzek, William. 2015. “The informal economy as a catalyst for sustainability.” Sustainability 7 (1): 23-34

Scheyvens, Regina; Banks, Glenn; Hughes, Emma. 2016. “The private sector and the SDGs: the need to move beyond ‘business as usual’.” Sustainable Development 24, (6): 371-382.

Scott, Noel; Baggio, Rodolfo; Cooper, Chris (eds.). 2008. Network analysis and tourism: from theory to practice. Clevedon: Channel View Publications

Sood, Jyoti; Lynch, Paul; Anastasiadou, Constantia. 2017. “Community non-participation in homestays in Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, India.” Tourism Management 60: 332-347.

Taylor, Henry L. 2009. Inside el barrio. Sterling, VA: Kumarian Press.

Taylor, Henry L.; McGlynn, Linda. 2009. “International tourism in Cuba: can capitalism be used to save socialism?” Futures 41 (6): 405-413.

Thomas, John H.; Kitterlin-Lynch, Miranda; Lorenzo Del Valle, Daymaris. 2015. “Cuba’a future hospitality and tourism business opportunities and obstacles.” Cornell Hospitality Reports 15 (11): 6-16.

UN (United Nations). 2019. “Special edition: progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.” Report of the Secretary-General, E/2019/68. United Nations Economic and Social Council, 8 May. <https://undocs.org/E/2019/68>. Retrieved 18 December 2019.

UN. 2019b. “Industry.” Sustainable Development Goals Knowledge Platform, United Nations. <https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/topics/industry>. Accessed 18 December 2019.

UNWTO (World Tourism Organization); OAS (Organization of American States). 2018. Tourism and the Sustainable Development Goals: good practices in the Americas. Madrid: World Tourism Organization.

Van Wijk, Jakomijn; Van der Duim, René; Lamers, Machiel; Sumba, Daudi. 2015. “The emergence of institutional innovations in tourism: the evolution of the African Wildlife Foundation’s tourism conservation enterprises.” Journal of Sustainable Tourism 23 (1): 104-125.

Published
2019-12-21
How to Cite
Ditlefsen, S., Hamilton, S., & Meaker, E. (2019). Cuba’s casas particulares: an analysis of informality, social capital, entrepreneurship and sustainability. Diálogos Latinoamericanos, 20(28), 89-103. Retrieved from https://tidsskrift.dk/dialogos/article/view/117592