Academic activism in tourism studies: Critical Narratives from Four Researchers

Rob Hales, Dianne Dredge, Tazim Jamal, Freya Higgins-Desbiolles

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

    10 Citations (Scopus)
    321 Downloads (Pure)


    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 article draws on the autoethnographic insights and critical narratives of four tourism scholars to describe and analyze 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. Although the contexts in which we work and our experiences differ greatly, the article 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 article 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
    Issue number2
    Pages (from-to)189-199
    Number of pages11
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018


    • Academic activism
    • Narrative analysis
    • Neoliberalism
    • Public good
    • Tourism studies

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