Qualitative Research in Tourism: Ontologies, Epistemologies and Methodologies

By Jenny Phillimore; Lisa Goodson | Go to book overview
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Reflexivity and tourism research

Situating myself and/with others
Michael Hall
Aims of the chapter
To identify issues relating to reflexivity and undertaking tourism research.
To identify how 'the rules of the game' may affect tourism research.
To discuss how so-called private life may influence the public conduct of tourism research.


The growth of a high degree of 'reflexivity' or self-consciousness among the populations of contemporary industrial societies tends to be regarded as one of the hallmarks of postmodernity (Gergen 1991; Lash and Urry 1994). By this is meant that modern societies have reached a position where not only are they forced to reflect on themselves but also they have the capability of reflecting back on themselves. For Giddens (1990, 1991), this has meant the capacity for greater personal, individual self-reflexivity, while for Beck (1992) it is societal self-reflexivity, through social monitoring and social movements (Beck et al. 1994). For researchers, this means that via the principle of reflexive explanation, 'each of us as members of society are able to participate via certain roles and come to reflect on the products of that participation' (Evans 1988:2000). However, whether the condition of modern societies is branded as reflexive modernity or postmodernity, the vagaries of the postmodern condition are virtually unavoidable in contemporary examinations of social science and the worlds from which social research are formed, including our own.

Ironically, this is itself a product of the nature of postmodernity, which 'does not offer itself as a theory to be tested and assessed in the usual fashion. In a peculiar way, post-modernity has to be assessed not from the detached viewpoint of the external observer but from within, from inside its own discourse' (Kumar 1995:184). Arguably, the critical culture of postmodernity has established new spaces, opportunities and languages of debate, with such debates becoming the proof of postmodernity's own existence. 'The battle of the books is also an ontic battle against death' (Hassan 1985:120).


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