Getting ‘entangled’: reflexivity and the ‘critical turn’ in tourism studies

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Ateljevic, I, Harris, C, Wilson, E & Collins, FL 2005, 'Getting ‘entangled’: reflexivity and the ‘critical turn’ in tourism studies', Tourism Recreation Research, vol. 30, no. 2, pp. 9-21.

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Reflecting a broader postmodern shift to unmask the cultural politics of research and knowledge-making in academia, tourism studies as a field is demonstrating a notable 'critical turn' - a shift in thought that serves to provide and legitimize a space for more interpretative and critical modes of tourism inquiry. In response to this critical turn, this paper addresses the central issue of 'reflexivity' which, while alive in other disciplines and fields, has received rather limited attention within tourism studies. By drawing on our own personal academic/research experiences working at the crossroads of this turn in thought, we identify a range of 'entanglements' that influence and constrain our research choices, textual strategies and ability to pursue reflexive knowledge. These entanglements centre around four broad, but interlinking, themes: 'ideologies and legitimacies'; 'research accountability'; 'positionality', and 'intersectionality with the researched'. In writing this paper, we aim to uncloak the current cultural politics in the tourism studies field, deferring as a basis to more mature debates on reflexivity in the social sciences. Ultimately, we stress the need to recognize reflexivity not only as a self-indulgent practice of writing ourselves in to our research, but also as a wider socio-political process which must incorporate and acknowledge the 'researched' and our responsibilities to them in the production of tourism knowledge. More importantly, in order to move the perceptions of reflexivity beyond the self, we urge all researchers to find a common territory and engage in the art of reflexivity, irrespective of their ontological, epistemological and methodological binds.

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