Academic activism in tourism studies: A critical narrative analysis from four researchers

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Abstract

A climate of neoliberalism challenges the work of scholars whose research focuses on societal well-being through embedded community research and critical analysis of public policy, planning, and industry practices, what we call academic activism. This paper draws on the autoethnographic insights and critical narratives of four tourism scholars to describe and analyse in a systematic manner the experiences of these researchers each engaged in what they consider to be academic activism. Our aim is to bring into focus and raise as matters of concern the future of tourism research in the neoliberal university and the need for greater critical and reflexive engagement by researchers in their positionality and agency. While the contexts in which we work and our experiences differ greatly, the paper identifies common themes, challenges and opportunities within our approaches to research and action. Four emergent themes arose through the narrative analysis that helped to structure insights and findings: experiential journeys that shaped our current academic positionality and philosophical approaches to research and practice; a preference for embedded situated methodologies; a reflexive understanding of our political positioning; and a critical situated approach to understanding the external influences upon our research and strivings to contribute to the public good. The paper raises challenging questions on the meaning of tourism research and the “public good” in the neoliberal university, and what being an academic activist entails in this context.
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A climate of neoliberalism challenges the work of scholars whose research focuses on societal well-being through embedded community research and critical analysis of public policy, planning, and industry practices, what we call academic activism. This paper draws on the autoethnographic insights and critical narratives of four tourism scholars to describe and analyse in a systematic manner the experiences of these researchers each engaged in what they consider to be academic activism. Our aim is to bring into focus and raise as matters of concern the future of tourism research in the neoliberal university and the need for greater critical and reflexive engagement by researchers in their positionality and agency. While the contexts in which we work and our experiences differ greatly, the paper identifies common themes, challenges and opportunities within our approaches to research and action. Four emergent themes arose through the narrative analysis that helped to structure insights and findings: experiential journeys that shaped our current academic positionality and philosophical approaches to research and practice; a preference for embedded situated methodologies; a reflexive understanding of our political positioning; and a critical situated approach to understanding the external influences upon our research and strivings to contribute to the public good. The paper raises challenging questions on the meaning of tourism research and the “public good” in the neoliberal university, and what being an academic activist entails in this context.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTourism Analysis
ISSN1083-5423
StatePublished - 2018
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes

    Research areas

  • academic activism, tourism studies, narrative analysis, public good

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