Transforming rural communities through tourism development: an examination of empowerment and disempowerment processes

Jeongeun Park, Suiwen Zou, Joelle Soulard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Empowerment, as it represents community members’ sense of control and ability to cope with a changing environment, plays a crucial role in sustainable tourism. This study explored the (dis)empowerment processes in the context of rural tourism development. The power typology was presented as a process of change that transformed the lives of rural community members through tourism development. Through a multi-method approach that combined community workshops and interviews with tourism stakeholders from four rural communities, this study expanded the theorization of tourism-related empowerment processes by integrating Rowlands’s model of empowerment and McClelland’s classification of power experiences. Findings highlighted that tourism development could lead to both empowerment and disempowerment in all four expressions of power, through processes of “power over” (access and control over resources), “power within” (individual autonomy and belief), “power with” (opportunities for collective action), and “power to” (individual capability for taking action). Moreover, the four expressions of power were found to be interrelated and interwoven. Specifically, our findings revealed that 1) “power with” and “power to” build upon each other; 2) “power over” interacted with “power with”; 3) “power with”, “power to” and “power over” influenced “power within”. Theoretical and practical implications were discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Sustainable Tourism
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • Empowerment
  • community development
  • power
  • rural community
  • transformation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


Dive into the research topics of 'Transforming rural communities through tourism development: an examination of empowerment and disempowerment processes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this