This book theorises resorts as distinct kinds of urban milieux, capturing the complexity of destinations famous for ‘sun, sand and sex’ mass tourism. Drawing on qualitative field research (participant observation, interviews and photography), the book discusses examples from six international resort destinations spread across four continents: the Gold Coast, Australia; Phuket and Koh Phangan, Thailand; Cancún, Mexico; Miami, USA; and Ibiza, Spain.

The book reviews the material and symbolic production of lived spaces in these resorts, considering the mutually constitutive, mutually transformative relations between their spatial formations, built environments, popular imaginaries, representations, narratives of identity, rhythms, and the experiences and practices of both tourists and locals. In doing so, it argues for more nuanced ways of conceptualising tourism, globalisation and spatiality, reimagining how these phenomena unfold in lived spaces.

Taking a cultural studies approach to urban analysis, the book demonstrates the value in embracing complexity, fluidity, partiality and uncertainty. It will be of interest to students and researchers of tourism, geography, cultural studies, development studies, anthropology and sociology.

chapter 1|26 pages


Spatiality and mass tourism

chapter 2|62 pages

Resort cities and regions

Historical perspectives and contemporary developments

chapter 4|34 pages

Culture and tourism

Global trends, local specificity and the symbolic economy

chapter 5|21 pages

Living in sites of leisure

Local experiences and impacts of tourism

chapter 6|19 pages

The right to the city

Stratification and belonging among resort residents

chapter 7|6 pages


Mobilising difference and complexity