By Erica Wilson, Candice Harris, Jennie Small
The social sciences have accommodated changes in methodological and epistemological thought. These include 'new' sociology/cultural studies (e.g., Atkinson, 1990; Du Gay, 1997; Long, 1997), new cultural and human geographies (e.g.,Jackson, 1993; Mansvelt, 2005; Massey, 2005) and new leisure studies (Aitchison, 1999). In these cases, the term new does not imply creation of new sub-disciplines, or a total rejection of earlier or 'traditional' thinking, but rather it is used as a broad reference to communicate a diversity of work that transgresses the disciplinary boundaries to knowledge construction.
As tourism and hospitalitystudies are fields in which a diverse range of disciplines have exercised their influence, it is surprising that only recently have these broader philosophical and methodological issues begun to be incorporated (e.g., Franklin & Crang, 2001; Hollinshead 1999; Phillimore & Goodson, 2004; Tribe, 1997). However, studies addressing a whole variety of issues such as power, 'Othering', gender, race,sexuality, embodiment, subjectivity and alternative methodologies (Aitchison, 2001; Hollinshead & Jamal, 2007; Johnston, 2001; Pritchard, 2004) demonstrate that we are now following the lead of the social sciences, and moving into the field of new tourism research (Tribe, 2005). Tribe contends that tourism and hospitality studies are beginning to make a slow retreat from the binds of logicalempiricism (which we would argue are still firmly entrenched within tourism and hospitality academia). In doing so, Tribe argues, we have moved beyond a strait-jacketed fascination with positivistic research to embrace more reflexive and critical paths of inquiry.
Within the new tourism (and hospitality) studies, tourism and hospitality research are demonstrating an emerging 'critical turn'(Ateljevic et al., 2005)--a shift in thought that embraces interpretive, alternative and critical modes of enquiry (Ateljevic et al., 2007). This turn follows similar breaks from tradition in other disciplines, particularly those seen in the post-Third Moment interpretive, linguistic, critical, and constructivist turns in the social sciences (Denzin & Lincoln, 2005). As in the social sciences,there is currently debate and discussion about what we mean by 'critical' in the tourism and hospitality fields (e.g., is it critical theory? critical realism? critical thinking? critical reflection?). This is not surprising, argues Brookfield (2005, p. 11), because 'criticality is a contested idea, one with a variety of meanings each claimed by different groups for very different purposes. How theterm critical is used inevitably reflects the ideology and worldview of the user' (emphasis in original).
That is, a critical approach includes under its umbrella a range of social-science perspectives and fields (or a post-disciplinary combination of these), such as postmodernism, poststructuralism, critical theory, critical realism, feminist/gender theory, race studies, and also methodologieslike qualitative research, interpretivism, ethnography, phenomenology, feminist research, memory-work, Indigenist research and critical discourse analysis. Essentially, we take the view that there is no single way to undertake critical tourism and hospitality research and teaching. While there will always be diversity and overlap in how we each interpret the meaning of 'critical' tourism andhospitality studies, we prefer to use the term 'critical approach' to encompass the array of critical methods, theories and philosophies in use.
While ontological, epistemological and methodological differences may exist, those employing a critical approach would generally be concerned with resisting positivist modes of enquiry, unmasking power relations, seeking emancipation, addressing inequalities,...