Date of Award


Thesis Date


Degree Type

Honors Thesis-Unrestricted

Degree Name



Anthropology and Sociology

Degree Program



David Beriss


As the symbolic and functional heart of the New Orleans tourism industry, the French Quarter has been described as the city's "number one factory". Using this evocative image as a starting point, this paper explores workaday life within this factory. I argue that the political economy of tourism brings together the world of work and the world of leisure in such a way that neither can be meaningfully understood apart from each other. To get at this point, I examine the commodity which at the heart of the tourist economy, which, I contend, is the touristic experience. Drawing on data gleaned from interviews, participant observation, and analysis of tourist discourse, I show that the production of this commodity – immaterial as it may appear – is in fact quite labor intensive. Furthermore, as tourism has become the driving sector of the New Orleans economy, the social and economic arrangements that the industry entails have extended out from the factory, integrating a broader swath of the city's geography into its structure than is generally supposed.


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