Platform empowerment: Facebook’s role in facilitating female micro-entrepreneurship in tourism
Journal of Sustainable Tourism
Even though tourism and hospitality employ large numbers of women and female micro-entrepreneurship plays a significant role in sustainable tourism development, the proportion of female micro-entrepreneurs is low. Particularly in developing countries, barriers to female micro- entrepreneurship remain significant. This article explores how social media platforms like Facebook can empower female tourism and hospitality micro-entrepreneurs in developing and highly tourism-dependent economies. Employing a netnographic approach, data were collected in two stages: (1) A total of 3214 posts by female micro-entrepreneurs were gathered from two Facebook groups to identify dimensions of platform empowerment; (2) semi-structured interviews with twelve members of the two groups were conducted to further explore these dimensions. The findings show four ways in which Facebook supports empowerment processes and outcomes at individual and collective levels, namely as a (1) learning resource; (2) informal entrepreneurial ecosystem; (3) self-development tool; and (4) business development exchange. By identifying the role social media platforms play in bridging social policy gaps, this study contributes knowledge that is critical for a more inclusive development of sustainable tourism.
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