First person phenomenological tourist experiences

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Publication details

Edelheim, JR 2006, 'First person phenomenological tourist experiences', working paper presented at the Critical Tourism " Down-Under" Conference, Sydney, NSW, 24 November.


I am consciously taking a step away from the dominant tradition of Tourism Studies in order to critically question the way tourism is currently analysed by basing this research on qualitative humanities methods. That I am pursuing my PhD in Cultural Studies is because I wanted to critically analyse Tourism Studies and the meaning of tourism from ‘the outside’ of that tradition. Motivated by the slogan for phenomenology claiming: ‘Meanings inspired only by remote, confused, inauthentic intuitions – if by any intuitions at all – are not enough: we must go back to the “things themselves” – ‘Wir wollen auf die “Sachen selbst” zurückgehen’ (Husserl, 2001 [1913], p. 88), I set out to construct a solid base, at least for myself, to build upon. I chose phenomenology as one of my methodologies as I wanted to investigate tourist experiences on their own without the pre-suppositions originating in earlier Tourism Studies. I am in this research aiming to lay bare constitutive elements of tourist attractions as they are presented to the viewer, and how they are simultaneously perceived. The original description of the phenomenon is naturally subjective in that it vividly describes one phenomenon; the goal is, however, to reflect on the phenomenon and thereby ‘generate some echoes in others, particularly those with similar experiences’ (Willis, 2001, p 3). My aim is to describe tourist attractions from the perspective of one tourist, myself, and to uncover what elements of the experience at that attraction constituted the experience in exactly the way it was experienced by me. Or, in other words, I will try to investigate what made the phenomenon mean what it did to me, and without which it would not have been that same phenomenon.