3 Main Research Paradigms in Tourism Studies

Topics: Research, Scientific method, Polar bear Pages: 6 (1913 words) Published: October 18, 2010
A critical view on my view; 3 main research paradigms in tourism studies using ecotourism as an example.

Paradigm; a conceptual framework within which scientific theories are constructed, which is consistent within itself, but may need completely revising as evidence challenging the factual accuracy of some aspects of its accumulates. (Chambers 21st century dictionary, 1996)

Ecotourism; the careful development end management of tourism in areas of unspoiled natural beauty, so that the environment is preserved and the income form tourism contributes to its conservation. (Chambers 21st century dictionary, 1996)

According to Kuhn (1962), paradigms are essential to scientific inquiry, for "no natural history can be interpreted in the absence of at least some implicit body of intertwined theoretical and methodological belief that permits selection, evaluation, and criticism." Within tourism studies this body is comprised out of three (3) main research paradigms; Positivist, Interpretive and Critical. Most researchers fall within one of these paradigms determining there gaze and positionality. For example a positivist will never ask “why” and a interpretive will probably never “criticize”. This is not within the scope of their researchers gaze. Although ecotourism is quit a young discourse it is rapidly growing in popularity within the tourism branch. The general agreement that eco-tourism is "nature-based, sustainably managed, inclusive of social and cultural aspects, and educational to tourists" is one that appeals to a great number of tourists. However looking at it critically does ecotourism practices meet the terms of these assumptions?

Positivist approach
There are several defining characteristics of positivist research. First of all, it concentrates on positive data which can be verifiable and can survive attempts at falsification. Consequently excluding ethical questions which can not be answered with facts. As Tribe (2001) wrote “The world of “ought” is therefore ruled out of bounds in favor of the world of “is.”” Secondly only quantitative research methods are used based on a hypothesis. And finally the researcher is objective, they have no reflection and acknowledgement of any positionality, ideology, rules and ends. They are in theory replaceable by any other researcher who would reach identical results using the same data and methods, Tribe (2001). Polar bear sport hunting (which in the case of Nunavut is defined as a form of conservation hunting) is an economically important form of Aboriginal ecotourism in the Canadian Arctic territory of Nunavut. Each sport hunt provides approximately 20 times the monetary value of a polar bear taken in a subsistence hunt. Positive cultural outcomes for communities that offer these hunts include the revival of dog mushing; preservation of traditional sewing, hunting and survival skills, and accommodation within the industry for the subsistence economy and Inuit norms of sharing. Concurrently, there are frequent community discussions about the industry that provides insight into Inuit views of hunting for recreation as well as western-style wildlife management, which allow for an examination of how Inuit communities are working to accommodate the non-Inuit culture and the market economy. Sport hunting provides Inuit with a reason to support western-style conservation and learn about scientific research and management programmes. Recent international concern about climate change impacts on two polar bear populations and its extrapolation to all populations threatens the conservation programme already in place in Nunavut. Polar bear conservation is of primary concern to Inuit and non-Inuit alike, but pressure to reduce hunting that is not supported by evidence, could result in an undue reduction in the value of polar bear harvesting (by reducing hunting and stopping conservation hunting). This may well result in a loss of local...
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