Qualitative Research in Tourism: Ontologies, Epistemologies and Methodologies

By Jenny Phillimore; Lisa Goodson | Go to book overview

1

Progress in qualitative research in tourism

Epistemology, ontology and methodology
Jenny Phillimore and Lisa Goodson
Aims of the chapter
• To provide an introductory discussion on qualitative research and how thinking about research and the way we view the social world has evolved in the social sciences.
• To review progress made in qualitative tourism research by considering the nature of research in the field, the range of approaches commonly adopted and areas for future development.
• To highlight the main themes and issues addressed in the remainder of the book.

Introduction

The term 'qualitative research' is something of an enigma. For some time, the issue of what exactly qualitative research is has been at the centre of a great deal of debate within social science, most notably in the disciplines of sociology and anthropology (see May 1993). More recently, these debates have gained greater prominence in the field of tourism research (Hollinshead 1996, 1999; Jamal and Hollinshead 2001; Riley 1996; Riley and Love 2000; Walle 1997; Dann 1996). Traditionally, qualitative research has been viewed somewhat simplistically as a set of different research methods that have certain features in common. In this respect, qualitative methods are employed to collect data about activities, events, occurrences and behaviours and to seek an understanding of actions, problems and processes in their social context. From this perspective, qualitative research is perceived as distinct from quantitative research as it does not produce quantified findings or have measurement and hypothesistesting as an integral part of the research process. When qualitative research is thought of as a series of methods, it is often considered to be an approach to research that is 'other' to quantitative research because quantitative data are not collected (Bryman and Burgess 1994). As such, qualitative research has been prone to criticisms that it is a 'soft',

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