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Approaches to leisure and tourism research


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Title: Approaches to leisure and tourism research

Approaches to leisure and tourism research
Approaches to leisure and tourism research
  • Introduction
  • discipline and paradigms for leisure and
    tourism research
  • The disciplinary traditions of leisure and
    tourism research
  • Sociology, Economics, Psychology/social
  • History and anthropology, Political science
  • Cross-disciplinary dimensions

The disciplinary traditions of leisure and
tourism research
  • Leisure and tourism studies is a
    multi-disciplinary, cross-disciplinary and
    inter-disciplinary field of study.
  • Multi-disciplinary a number of disciplines are
  • Cross-disciplinary issues, theories, concepts
    and methods which are common to more than one
    discipline are involved
  • Inter-disciplinary sub-fields of research which
    do not fit neatly into any particular discipline
    are involved

An inter-disciplinary framework
  • Five main elements people, organizations,
    services/facilities/attractions, the linkages
    between these three elements, the physical
    environments within which everything takes place
  • Link A market research and political activity
  • Link B marketing, buying, selling,
    employing, visiting/using services
  • Link C planning and investment

An inter-disciplinary framework
  • Disciplines vary in terms of their primary focus
    of attention
  • psychology and social psychology people
  • Political science organizations
  • History whole system
  • Economics at the macro-level whole system
  • Economics at the micro-level market process
  • Sociology people and Link A and organizations
  • It is impossible to gain complete appreciation of
    the research contribution and methods of any
    discipline without understanding the discipline
    as a whole.

  • Questions
  • Why do men tend to play sport than women?
    Why do middle-class, highly educated people make
    greater use of arts facilities and outdoor
    recreation areas than other groups? etc.
  • Sociology of leisure
  • Social surveys and quantitative models
  • - Sociology is concerned with explaining
    or understanding social
  • behaviors - particularly the
    behavior of groups or classes of people.

  • - The surveys contributes to the policy
  • - This research is quantitative, being
    highly statistical and concerned
  • primarily with predicting numbers of
    participants and visits.
  • - The modeling/prediction approach did not
    work well but more
  • theoretical framework of sociology is
  • Explaining why
  • - Focus on the value of sociological theory and
    the use of qualitative as well as quantitative
  • - Want to know why and what leisure and lack of
    leisure meant to people.
  • - A number of areas were explored including
    existential approaches to leisure, the benefits
    approach and leisure constraints.

  • Critical approaches
  • - Neo-Marxist research introduced the
    agency/structure debate into
  • leisure studies.
  • - Feminist sociologist noted that the
    empirical work to date had been
  • based on samples of men and ignored
    the day-to-day experience
  • of freedom of women.
  • - Postmodernism moves parts of leisure
    sociology closer to humanities
  • approach.
  • - Poststructuralism rejects
    structural theory of society but seeks to
  • focus on the micro-level of human
    existence and the ways individuals
  • and groups interact to create social
    environments and power
  • relationships.

  • Sociology of tourism
  • - Equivalent to recreation research.
  • - No single sociology of tourism instead,
    there have been
  • several attempts to understand
    sociologically different
  • aspects of tourism, departing from a
    number of theoretical
  • perspectives.
  • - Paralleling developments in theory has
    been the
  • development of empirical research on
    tourism to
  • encompass a spread of methodologies
    from the highly
  • quantitative and deductive to the full
    range of qualitative
  • and inductive approaches.

  • Questions
  • What is the relationship between where
    people live, their access to leisure facilities
    and their patterns of leisure participation? How
    are the leisure and tourism trips of the
    population of a region accommodates and
    distributed within the region? etc.
  • What geographers do in leisure and tourism
  • - Social modeling is extended to spatial

  • - Concerned primarily with spatial and
    environmental issues and also with large-scale
    natural and man-made phenomena such as the
    coastline, wilderness and human settlement
    patterns. e.g.) research about tourism sites,
    recreation in green areas such as urban and
    national parks.
  • - Overlapping with sociology and bridging the
    gap between leisure and tourism.
  • - Covering a full range of qualitative and
    quantitative research methods into field.
  • - Demonstrating the use of aerial photography
    in examining the spatial distribution of
    recreational resources and utilization and the
    ways visitors make use of dispersed sites such as

  • Questions
  • How do increase in incomes affect leisure
    expenditure and behavior?
  • What is the impact in terms of business
  • turnover and jobs, of an event such as the
  • Olympic Games?
  • How will a change in the exchange rate affect
  • international tourist arrivals?

  • Economic study
  • - Concerned with the public sector,
    particularly rural outdoor
  • recreation and the arts whose economic
    valuation are
  • evaluated and a great deal of research
    on cost-benefit
  • analysis is spawned.
  • - Focus on macro-economics including
    levels of economic
  • output, multipliers, unemployment,
    international trade and etc.
  • - Work on the economics of professional
  • - Produce forecasts of domestic and
    overseas tourist trips based on
  • primarily economic models.
  • - Use similar methods to other social
    scientists, including household and
  • site interviews as well as accessing to
    more government-collected data
  • such as consumer expenditure.

Psychology/social psychology
  • Questions
  • What satisfaction do people obtain from their
  • What motivates people to engage in one form
    of leisure activity rather than another?
  • Psychology study
  • - Attempt to understand the underlying
    motivations of individuals as well as their
    social interaction.

Psychology/social psychology
  • - Four main categories of psychological research
  • motivation and needs (why individuals do what
    they do)
  • satisfactions (the idea that particular types
    of leisure behavior and experience lead to
    differential levels of satisfaction)
  • leisure as a state of mind (including
    Csikszentmihalyis concept of flow)
  • individual differences (including gender, age,
    personality and cultural differences)

Psychology/social psychology
  • Five types of psychological research of tourism
  • physiological and ergonomic (e.g. jet-lag and
    travelers health problems)
  • cognition (e.g. the use of maps and tourists
    mindfulness of areas visited)
  • individual differences approaches ( e.g.
    relationships between personality types and types
    of touristic experience sought, links with
    motivation, psychographics and need)

Psychology/social psychology
  • social psychology (including intra-individual,
    inter-individual and group processes)
  • environmental studies (e.g. perception of
  • - The small-scale self-completion questionnaire
    surveys dominate the methods of leisure and
    tourism psychology-related research.

History and anthropology
  • Questions
  • What are the historical roots of the practices,
    attitudes and institutions involved in
    contemporary leisure and tourism?
  • To what extent has leisure time increased since
    pre-industrial times?
  • How is change constrained by the effects of past
    actions and events?

History and anthropology
  • Historians and theorists have produces histories
    of leisure, particularly in the 19th century,
    which show how leisure has been an integral part
    of the development of the cultures and economies
    of Western capitalist societies.
  • The available historical writing tends to jump
    from ancient Greece to the industrial revolution
    in Europe.
  • One of major contributions of historical analysis
    is to illustrate the use of secondary data
    sources such as diaries, official records and
    reports and newspaper reports.
  • Anthropological research methods emerges as
    cultural studies in the form of ethnographical

Political Science
  • Despite the importance of public policy matters
    in leisure and tourism, the political dimension
    of the subject was ignored for many years.
  • Case studies of the politics of local
    decision-making have emerged as an important
    contribution in recent years.
  • While leisure studies research has focused on the
    relationships between political ideology and
    leisure policy, in tourism the focus is less
    ideological and more to do with the role of
    tourism in political behavior.

Approaches and dimensions
  • Theoretical/applied
  • Empirical/non-empirical
  • Induction/deduction
  • Descriptive/explanatory research
  • Positivist/interpretive
  • Experimental/non-experimental
  • Primary/secondary data
  • Self-reported/observed
  • Qualitative/quantitative
  • Validity and reliability

Theoretical and applied research
  • Theoretical approach
  • Draw general conclusions about the phenomena
    being studied
  • Develop or elaborate the model in general
  • Create wholly new knowledge
  • Applied approach
  • Apply existing theoretical knowledge to
    particular problems or issues
  • Policy studies, planning and management can be
    seen applied disciplines
  • Use the model as a framework for examining a

Empirical vs. non-empirical
  • Empirical approach
  • Involve the collection and/or analysis of data
  • Informed by observations or information from the
    real world but usually informed by some sort of
    theory or conceptual framework
  • Provide some of building blocks of research and
  • Non-empirical approach
  • Theoretical research with no reference to
    information about the real world is likely to
    be of limited value
  • Non-empirical contributions are needed to review
    and refine ideas and to place the empirical work
    in context

It is rare for any research to be purely
empirical or purely theoretical. Typically
theoretical and empirical research coexist and
enhance each other.
Induction vs. deduction
B. Analysis
  • Observation/
  • Description

C. Explanation/ Hypothesis/Theory
Induction vs. deduction
  • Inductive
  • Begin at point A
  • Proceed to point B
  • Arrive at point C
  • The explanation is induced from the data.
  • The data come first and the explanation later.
  • Deductive
  • Begin at point C, with a hypothesis
  • Proceed to point A, gathering data to test the
  • Proceed to point B, to test the hypothesis
    against the data
  • Based on prior logical reasoning

Induction vs. deduction
  • Case study 2.1 Explain the relative popularity
    of tennis vs. golf
  • Inductive approach
  • Descriptive survey more people play tennis than
    play golf
  • Why?
  • It costs more to play golf than to play
  • More people consider tennis as being fun to
    play than consider golf to be fun.
  • There are more tennis courts available than
    golf courses.
  • Price, intrinsic enjoyment
    and supply of facilities

Induction vs. deduction
  • Deductive approach
  • Hypothesis 1 if sport A is more expensive to
    play than sport B, then sport B will be more
    popular than sport A.
  • Hypothesis 2 If more facilities are available
    for sport B than for sport A, then sport B will
    be more popular than sport A.
  • To test these hypotheses, collect information on
  • The level of participation in the two sports
    tennis and golf
  • The costs of participating in the two sports
  • The availability of facilities for the two sports
    in the study area

Induction vs. deduction
  • Comment
  • Data rarely collected without some explanatory
    model in mind and it is not possible to develop
    hypothesis without at least some initial
    information on subject.
  • Therefore, most research is partly
  • inductive and partly deductive.

Descriptive vs. explanatory
  • Descriptive research aims to describe what is.
  • Explanatory research involves establishing that
    one phenomenon is caused by another. This raises
    the question of causality whether A is caused by
  • e.g. A tourism destination is losing market.
  • Why? price movement or inefficient marketing?

Descriptive vs. explanatory
  • Criterions for establishing causality
  • Association necessary condition for a causal
  • Time priority Cause must take place before the
  • Nonspurious relation the association between two
    variables that cannot be explained by a third
  • Rationale statistical or other evidence is not
    enough and it should be supported by some
    plausible, theoretical or logical explanation.

Positivist vs. interpretive
  • Positivist approach
  • A framework of research in which the researcher
    sees people as phenomena to be studied from the
    outside, with behavior to be explained on the
    basis of facts and observations gathered by the
    researcher. ? highly suspicious attempts
  • Interpretive approach
  • Place more reliance on the people being studied
    to provide their own explanations of their
    situation or behavior. ? getting inside the
    minds of subjects and seeing the world from their
    point of view and involving qualitative methods
    and generally an inductive approach

Experimental vs. non-experimental
  • Experimental approach
  • Control the environment of subject of research
    and measuring the effects of controlled change.
  • More popular in the natural sciences than in the
    social sciences
  • Closet to psychology and the human movement
    aspects of sports research
  • e.g. setting up experiments in which people are
    subject to stimuli and study their reaction.

Experimental vs. non-experimental
  • Non-experimental approach
  • More natural in the social sciences in which it
    is difficult to control the environment of
    subject of research
  • Less clear-cut result than in the case of
    controlled experiment due to identifying the
    effects of the change of interest
  • e.g. in studying the effects of income on leisure
    participation patterns or touristic behavior,
    gather information on the leisure and travel
    behavior patterns of range of people with
    different levels of income.

Primary vs. secondary data
  • It is advisable to consider whether it is
    necessary to go to the expense of collecting new
  • Primary data new data to be collected in the
    proposed research
  • Secondary data existing data, such as official
    government statistics or financial records from a
    leisure or tourism facility or service

Self-reported vs. observed data
  • Self-reported data asking people about their
    behavior, attitude and aspirations using
    interviews or respondent-completed
  • Problems nonresponse, liar, recall
  • e.g. the amount of alcohol they drink, the
    amount of exercise they take, how much money
    they spent on a recreational or holiday trip some
    months ago or even yesterday

Self-reported vs. observed data
  • Observed data finding out how children use a
    playground or how adults make use of a resort
    area or a park, just watch what they do.

Qualitative vs. Quantitative
  • Qualitative research
  • a great deal of information about a small number
    of people rather than a limited amount of
    information about a large number of people
  • Not presentable in numerical form
  • Include observation, informal and in-depth
    interviewing and participant observation.
  • Initially developed by anthropologist and adapted
    by sociologists

Qualitative vs. Quantitative
  • Quantitative research
  • Presentable in numerical form
  • Involve statistical analysis? statistical
  • Two types of methods for quantitative approach
  • Type A making use of statistical methods and
  • American Journal of Leisure
  • Type B using percentages, descriptive
  • British Journal Leisure Studies

Validity vs. Reliability
  • Validity is the extent to which the information
    collected by the researcher truly reflects the
    phenomenon being studied.
  • Since empirical research is based on peoples own
    reports in the responses to questionnaire-based
    interviews, the data are subjects to a number of
  • More detailed questioning is needed to remove
    ambiguity complexity of question

Validity vs. Reliability
  • Reliability is the extent to which research
    findings would be the same if the research were
    to be repeated at a later or with a different
    sample of subjects.
  • More reliable in the natural sciences where
    experimental conditions are properly controlled
    but less reliable in the social sciences where
    human beings in differing and ever-changing
    social situations are dealt
  • Be cautious when making general, theoretical,
    statements on the basis of experimental research