Qualitative Research in Tourism: Ontologies, Epistemologies and Methodologies

By Jenny Phillimore; Lisa Goodson | Go to book overview

10

New wine in old bottles

An adjustment of priorities in the anthropological study of tourism
Dennison Nash
Aim of the chapter
• In their studies of development, anthropologists and other social scientists have often used ethnographic methods to study changes induced by Western contact. This pattern continues in their studies of tourism. Here it is argued that this focus leaves out a good deal of what transpires in tourism development, especially that aspect which generates and directs it, an area in which the ethnographic method also could be applied. This chapter considers the problems attending such application and its potential for illuminating the developmental processes involved.

Not too long ago, anthropologists embarking on the study of tourism would have been surprised to encounter another social scientist with a serious interest in that subject; but times have changed enough for us now to have some confidence in the viability of this field of study and be able to attend more fully to questions about what we should be studying and how. Anthropology has always been concerned with the cultures of humankind, especially in those less developed societies on the Western periphery where anthropologists had become accustomed to doing ethnographic work. These societies, like societies everywhere, have always been in the process of change (see, for example, Bee 1974), which is something that anthropologists have not always stressed in their writing about them. In the early days of anthropology there were grand schemes that accounted for social change in terms of endogenous or exogenous factors. Remnants of the latter viewpoint are to be found in theories of development (see, for example, Novak and Lekachman 1964; Burns 1999:137-160) and acculturation (see, for example, SSRC Seminar 1954) involving contact between more powerful Western societies and less powerful societies on their periphery. A diachronic picture of what was going on in this 'Third World', where ethnographic studies were almost de rigeur, came to characterise a good deal of anthropological writing.

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