Qualitative Research in Tourism: Ontologies, Epistemologies and Methodologies

By Jenny Phillimore; Lisa Goodson | Go to book overview

13

Let your data do the talking

Researching the solo travel experiences of British and American women
Fiona Jordan and Heather Gibson
Aims of the chapter
• To critically analyse the value of in-depth interviewing and grounded theory analysis in generating qualitative data on the experiences of tourists in general and marginalised groups in particular.
• To discuss our own experiences of working collaboratively to research issues in tourism.
• To evaluate the challenges of researching the experiences of tourists who are sometimes marginalised from 'mainstream' tourism research.

Introduction

Over the past five years we have interviewed more than 50 British and American women who take solo holidays. The idea for the project was originally conceived following Fiona's LSA (UK Leisure Studies Association) 1997 presentation of a study in which she investigated the lack of provision among British travel companies for women wishing to take a solo holiday (Jordan 1998). Heather had just finished interviewing both men and women in their retirement years about their travel experiences (Gibson 2002) and was intrigued by one particular traveller's tale, that of a female artist who spoke of both the joys and the tribulations of travelling solo. We decided that it would be interesting to compare the experiences of solo women travellers from both the United Kingdom and the United States, and embarked on a research project that has evolved through various phases both methodologically and theoretically. It is the story of this study that is told in this chapter. While our study specifically explores the experiences of women travelling solo, we would suggest that a number of the issues of research design, data collection, analysis and presentation of findings discussed here have wider relevance for tourism researchers. In particular, people investigating the experiences of tourists whose voices have often been marginalised in larger-scale quantitative studies may be interested in our reflective

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