Is There Emergent Epistemological Unity in Tourism Studies? the Tourism Research Ecosystem and Its Disciplining Dimension

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 10:30
Oral Presentation
Rene BRAUER, University of Surrey, United Kingdom
Throughout the academic research ecosystem, there exist modernist, postmodernist and post-postmodernist approaches that frame questions in regard to the legitimacy of science. Collins and Evans (2002) divide the study of scientific knowlegde production in 3 waves that frame the conceptualisation of scientific authority, the first approach aimed to defend the authority of science, meanwhile the second aimed at questioning it. The third approach is the one taken here and aims to synthesize insights from both.

The consensus between the modernist and postmodernist position can be found in solving the problem of legitimacy, studying science in action has unveiled that the so called ‘scientific method’ and the rationale behind it (Latour, 1993) comprise a set of ever evolving and changing norms of a specific epistemic community (Brauer and Dymitrow, 2017). Meeting such postmodern criticism head on is far more interesting than just stating that; ‘the scientific method is rationale’ or denying rationality in the first place (furthermore, isn't that very unscientific?). The way that it works sociologically is that by acquiring scientific expertise in one particular discipline (e.g. physics, climate science, economics, geology, tourism etc.) you become an expert within that field.

The bachelor degree, the master degree and finally the PhD function as an apprenticeship where the researcher is encultured into a particular framework of how to interpret the world, i.e. they become part of an epistemic research ecosystem. The legitimacy stems from mastery of such craft as to; 'how best to understand reality' in combination with learning the literal traditions of how to best describe reality (i.e. rhetorical devices). This study aims to explain this process of knowledge creation by using examples from tourism studies knowledge (eco)system (cf. Tribe and Liburd, 2016) and showing different methodological choices of the tribes within the wider research ecosystem (cf. Tribe, 2010).