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Handbook of Research Methods in Tourism

Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches

Edited by Larry Dwyer, Alison Gill and Neelu Seetaram

This insightful book explores the most important established and emerging qualitative and quantitative research methods in tourism. The authors provide a detailed overview of the nature of the research method, its use in tourism, the advantages and limitations, and future directions for research.
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Chapter 15: Grounded Theory

Olga Junek and Les Killion


Olga Junek and Les Killion INTRODUCTION Grounded theory (GT) as a research approach seeks to induce theory from empirical material through the ongoing interpretation of that material. In the development of a theory or theoretical framework, continual integration between the participants, the empirical materials, the researcher and the interpretation takes place (Strauss and Corbin, 1994). Since its origin in 1965 (Glaser and Strauss, 1965, 1967), and following a number of methodological and philosophical arguments and contested meanings, grounded theory has undergone a number of substantive changes. In the last decade, grounded theory has become a popular and increasingly important research methodology in tourism studies, thus acknowledging the multi-disciplinary nature of tourism and the moving away from a previously dominant business and quantitative focus. Using grounded theory in tourism studies provides researchers with a lens into tourist behaviour at a specific time, and, in particular, behaviour that may not have been studied before from a qualitative perspective (Birks and Mills, 2011). Grounded theory is also used when there is no a priori theory to explain an area or phenomenon of interest, or when the existing theory does not adequately take account of the social or temporal contexts of tourist behaviour (Hobson, 2003; Junek, 2004; Mehmetoglu and Olsen, 2003). In briefly noting some of the debates surrounding its development, this chapter draws the distinction between grounded theory as an alternative qualitative paradigm, and grounded theory methods which now form the basis of methodologies in a broad range of approaches to social enquiry....

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