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More villas and more barriers: Gentrification and the enclosure of rural land on Majorca

Plus de villas et plus de clôtures : la gentrification et la fermeture de l’espace rural à Majorque
Más chalets y más barreras: gentrificación y cerramiento del campo en Mallorca
Macià Blázquez Salom
p. 25-36


Tourism and real estate speculation as significant modes of capital accumulation have compromised traditional rural land use. The landscapes of the Balearic Islands, of which Majorca is studied, have undergone urban sprawl and a trend toward enclosure as wealthy people have bought properties and sought to privatize their space. Enclosure has provoked social conflicts when landowners have restricted public access to traditional footpaths and recreational areas. Gentrification, a term once applied only to cities, can now be expanded to include several processes at work in the rural parts of the Balearics.

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Author's notes

The research that gave rise to this article was funded by the research project entitled “Geografías de la crisis: análisis de los territorios urbano-turísticos de las Islas Baleares, Costa del Sol y principales destinos turísticos del Caribe”, (CSO2012‑30840) financed by the Ministerio de Economía y Competitiviad. It has also been suportted by FEDER and the Direcció General d’Universitats, Recerca i Transferència del Coneixement, Conselleria d’Educació, Cultura i Universitats of the Balearic Islands Government.



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1 - Pressure factor analysis
1.1 - Urban sprawl in the Balearic Islands as a result of a tourism model shift
1.2 - The financial and real estate bubble
1.3 - Commodification of space and nature
1.4 - Rural privatopia and spatial gentrification
1.5 - Regulation and gentrifying land protection
1.6 - Changes with the crisis in the land use regulatory planning
2 - The enclosure of rural land and social conflict
2.1 - Demand and the public right to hike
3 - Public trails as a palliative measure

First lines

This paper has three objectives: (1) to describe the pressure exerted by urban sprawl and gentrification of the Balearic Islands, principally on Majorca; (2) identify and evaluate the social conflict stemming from restriction of public access to rural land in the face of a growing demand by hikers and a shrinking supply of paths; and (3) compare the measures aimed at mitigating this conflict.

The aim is showing how commons of the rural land are privatised to benefit elite’s interests. The study case of Majorca shows how real estate tourism enlarges its influencing by transforming rural land. A new regulatory framework promotes urban sprawl for tourist purposes, geographically extending tourism influence farther away from the coastal resorts. Social conflicts of right of way arise due to new holiday villas’ enclosures. They are shown as examples of social relations linked to the commons that are being privatised (DE ANGELIS, 2006).

1 - Pressure factor analysis

1.1 - Urban sprawl in the ...

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Electronic reference

Macià Blázquez Salom, « More villas and more barriers: Gentrification and the enclosure of rural land on Majorca », Méditerranée [Online], 120 | 2013, Online since 30 May 2015, connection on 05 December 2016. URL : ; DOI : 10.4000/mediterranee.6638

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About the author

Macià Blázquez Salom

Grup d’Investigació sobre Sostenibilitat i Territori, GIST, University of the Balearic Islands,

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