chapter  3
12 Pages

Hosts as entrepreneurs: Female commercial home entrepreneurs in Gaeltacht areas in the west of Ireland


The commercial home literature, as the phrase implies, concentrates on the home as a place where hospitality is provided for tourists. An important contribution to this literature has been the discussion of what actually defines a commercial home (Lynch and MacWhannell 2000). A clear area of interest has also been in the social interactions that occur within that home between host and guest. This relationship must be examined in the context of the fact that studies such as Stringer (1981) show that gaining an insight into the realities of family life is a key attraction for the visitor. However, the shared use of family space can lead to tensions. Darke and Gurney (2000) describe hospitality in commercial homes as a performance which the host undertakes for the guest. In a similar vein, Dann and Cohen (1991: 163) discuss ‘social exchange and the profit motive masquerading behind a phoney front of friendliness’. Mottiar and Tucker (2007) examine the web of power that the host spins in Göreme, Turkey, as the host controls which local businesses ‘their’ guests visit. Another area of interest has been the gendered nature of commercial

homes. As Lynch (2000b: 106) states, ‘hosting in the home is generally perceived as a gendered occupation’. Darke and Gurney (2000: 83) note that ‘it remains the case that women’s identity is much more closely tied up with the home than men’s and [they argue] that the hospitality in the commercial sector offers the services of a surrogate mother or wife’. Dart (2006) considers issues of the blurring boundaries of work and leisure space and argues that many who work at home experience a sense of ‘disembeddeness’, with a loss of the traditional home space. Similarly, Sullivan (2000: 202) notes that ‘some co-residents experience loss of space, which can cause them dissatisfaction and lead to conflict’, while Mirchandani (2000: 178) looks at ‘two contradictory images which co-exist in individuals’ lives – one, that it allows individuals to integrate their work and family lives; and two, that it necessitates the maintenance of a strict division between paid and family work’. While these discussions have added to our understanding of the commer-

cial home and have developed a literature in this regard, an under-researched

area has been that of the entrepreneurial nature of these businesses. It is in this area that this chapter seeks to contribute to our understanding of commercial homes. The focus here is not on the owner as host but as entrepreneur and this chapter seeks to contribute to our knowledge about commercial home owners as entrepreneurs.