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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 16: Ethnographic Methods

Kathleen M. Adams


Kathleen M. Adams INTRODUCTION Although ethnographic methods derive from the discipline of sociocultural anthropology, because of their potential for producing insights into human actions and behaviors they have come to be embraced by sociologists, psychologists, and other social scientists interested in gaining insights into human behavior. Ethnographic methods fall into the broader category of qualitative methodologies and are aimed at understanding cultural practices, human beliefs and behaviors, and sociocultural changes over time. As such, ethnographic methods are particularly apt for tourism-related research and for tourism policy planning, as noted by a number of recent tourism scholars (Cole, 2005; Graburn, 2002; Nash, 2000; Palmer, 2001, 2009; Salazar, 2011; Sandiford and Ap, 1998). This chapter (1) introduces the key elements of ethnographic methodologies, (2) examines the types of tourism research problems for which this research strategy is suited, (3) reviews challenges entailed in using ethnographic methods in tourism settings, (4) surveys key tourism studies grounded in ethnographic research, and (5) closes with a discussion of new visions for this technique in tourism research. NATURE AND EVOLUTION OF ETHNOGRAPHIC METHODS Anthropologists use the term ethnography in two senses. In the first sense, an ethnography is a written account of the socio-cultural dynamics animating a particular human population. In the second sense, doing ethnography (or ethnographic research) entails long-term fieldwork and draws on a mixture of qualitative research techniques all aimed at generating insights into sociocultural relationships and the “native[s]’s point[s] of view” (Geertz, 1976; Malinowski, 1922). As Fife notes, in...

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