Academic journal article Journal of Travel and Tourism Research (Online)

Epistemology of Tourism

Academic journal article Journal of Travel and Tourism Research (Online)

Epistemology of Tourism

Article excerpt


The scientificization of tourism have concerned to many scholars in the last decades. The growing number of books, journals, doctoral thesis and papers in general make for some to coincide tourism has been reached as state of maturity in the process of knowledge production. However, in this short paper we place this belief under the lens of scrutiny simply because tourism lacks of a particular method up to date. From our end, we consider that tourism should focus on hospitality as its primary object of study and explain the reasons why it is trivialized by other existent social sciences.

Keywords: Science, epistemology, tourism, methodology, behaviour


Many scholars have devoted considerable efforts and attention to respond to what extent tourism should be considered a Science (Jafari and Aeser, 1988; Jafari and Pizam, 1996; Jafari, 2005; Coles, Duval and Hall, 2005; Korstanje and Busby, 2010, Schlüter, 2008; Xiao and Smith, 2008; Belhassen and Caton, 2009; Pernecky and Jamal, 2010; Tribe, 2010). In doing so, they found serious challenges and problems because of two reasons. The first and foremost, tourism and hospitality are industries based on leisure practices whose findings are trivialized by other more traditional disciplines as sociology and anthropology. Secondly, even though there are many Conferences and congress, doctoral thesis, books and journals dedicated fully to tourism study, the fact is that tourism lacks for a methodology and an epistemology that give identity before the other disciplines.


At some extent, scientification of tourism has a term coined by Jafari Jafari (2005) to denote the significant advances in research and the outcomes applied on tourism but unfortunately this is not enough. The historian of arts Steven Conn has convincingly showed how the firsts step of a discipline (as anthropology and archaeology) wakes up conflicts and tension with the existent consolidated bodies of knowledge. The advance of new disciplines never is easy (Conn, 1998). Nowadays, tourism is being studied from the paradigms of various disciplines as geography, sociology, anthropology, psychology and so forth. The growth of works and researches have been generated what J. Tribe called the "indiscipline of tourism" (Tribe, 2010); however, this new type of fragmentation that characterizes the current Science is not new and seems to be associated to the evolution of modernity. The problem Tribe envisaged affects all disciplines as well. In this conjuncture, the present conceptual paper is aimed at providing a new paradigm to understand not only tourism but also the states of sciences in general.

Most of the problems at time of defining tourism is the nature of this term and applied in different ways depending on the goals of research. What is important here to note is that tourism is a social fact that s connected with other subsystems as economy, politics, and economy (Monterrubio Cordero, 2011). One of the pioneers research respecting to the adaptancy to scientific knowledge to sciences of tourism was Jafar Jafari. Let remind readers that the main goal in Jafari's development was to give prospective view on scientifisation of tourism by identifying the previous conditions for its maturity. The sustainability was for this author one of the most important aspects of the activity to the extent to admit overtly "the purpose of this chapter is to provide retrospective and prospective view on tourism's scientific journey. More specifically, the aim is to identify some of the past conditions that have helped tourism to assume its present scholarly dimension and depth; to sketch the formation of this landscape of knowledge to selectively extract from this context emerging central socio-economic issues; to suggest research crossroads for advancing in new frontiers; to sample the richness of the sate of knowledge ... that in turn can guide present and future planning and operation of this diverse mega-industry. …

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