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Annals of Tourism Research, Vol. 39, No. 1 pp. 441–458, 2012 0160-7383/$ - see front matter Ó 2011 Elsevier Ltd.

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doi:10.1016/j.annals.2011.07.002

TOURISM AS COMPLEX INTERDISCIPLINARY RESEARCH OBJECT
´ de ´ ric Darbellay Fre Mathis Stock University Institute Kurt Bo ¨ sch (IUKB), Switzerland

Abstract: Tourism is currently a complex and globalised phenomenon with demonstrated socio-economic importance. While tourism is a socially recognised phenomenon, its status as scientific object within an academic field seems to be still in question. We ask the following questions: What is the order of construction of the field of knowledge constituted around tourism? Is it a paradigmatic order or an epistemic order? In what ways do the scientific object’s specificities constitute an important element of understanding of a new episteme? How do different definitions of tourism allow for a reconstruction of the field? This article seeks to summarise the current debate in the light of broader reconstructions of scientific discourse and reflect from an interdisciplinary epistemological perspective. Keywords: tourism studies, paradigm, episteme, complexity, interdisciplinarity. Ó 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

INTRODUCTION Tourism studies’ emergence as a primary scientific field has become evident through the emergence of specialised journals, university departments, and research centres. Tribe (1997) identifies two distinct fields, labelled ‘TF1’ (The Business of Tourism) and ‘TF2’ (Non-Business related Tourism). There is ongoing discussion about ‘tourism science’, as a ‘discipline’ or as a ‘field of study’. Efforts can be traced back to the 40s, for example, Hunziker and Krapf’s (1942) pioneering fremdenverkehrswissenschaft and the discussions since the 70s among German, English, and French speaking scholars about an emerging disciplinary field or science around tourism (see, e.g., Freyer, 1991; Jovicic, 1975; Kaspar, 1975; Leiper, 1979). It is interesting to note the context of the development of contemporary science. Many postdisciplinary orderings of scientific objects developed since the 50s, with tourism studies (Coles, Hall, & Duval, 2006) as a specific case alongside

´ de ´ ric Darbellay: (Centre de Recherche Interdisciplinaire sur le Tourisme, Institut Fre Universitaire Kurt Bo ¨ sch, Chemin de l’Institut, 1950 Sion, Switzerland. Email <frederic.darbellay@iukb.ch>). Mathis Stock: Centre de Recherche Interdisciplinaire sur le Tourisme, Institut Universitaire Kurt Bo ¨ sch, Chemin de l’Institut, 1950 Sion, Switzerland. Email <mathis.stock@iukb.ch>. 441

then a field of study or even a discipline called ‘tourism studies’ or ‘tourismology’ is a possibility. Ren. Indeed. & Morgan. 2010). which is anchored beyond the English-speaking world in many European countries (Germany and France. Based on publications outside of the small circle of Anglo-American contributions. Scandinavia. Yet. communication studies. Urry. M. the Netherlands. 2006. 2009). which is a result of disciplinary approaches recognising difficulties of deriving satisfactory descriptions. we have now evidence that a disciplinary ordering is not the only possible path (Leiper. A second problem is the interdisciplinary approach to tourism. 1990). What is therefore at stake is tourism as a means or a perspective to investigate various societal problems. autonomous. 2001)—then it makes no sense to discuss the existence of a field. 2008). paradigms. 1969. 2010. 1997. indisciplines. this article reflects on tourism’s challenging character for social science. Yet. Yugoslavia. we intend to show that tourism studies have a deeper and more complex history than is generally assumed. Italy. Spain. Tribe. and networks (Leiper. these are now well-established fields. post-colonial studies. Pritchard. Leiper. ‘intentionality’ or ‘form of life’ (Schu ¨ tz. The problem of the definition of the research object seems crucial. Darbellay.. Since the discussion about the tourism studies field and the disciplinary problem. and Greece). In this . Ceriani et al. if tourism is seen as a mere relationship to the world—a relationship theorised in social sciences as ‘gaze’ (Foucault. but to provide a reflection on the implications of tourism’s complexity on scientific work coordinated between different disciplines. 1979). The diversity of disciplinary backgrounds and traditions is—for example—clearly demonstrated by the work of the multidisciplinary experts in the tourism studies field gathered in an edited volume on the origins and developments of the sociology of tourism (Dann & Liebman Parrinello. while existing narratives on the field’s emergence focus on the 60s and 70s as an important moment. but societies and how they deal with tourism. 2005. 1981. Our working hypothesis is the following: if tourism is seen as a self-organised. 2000. Tribe. there is a body of work prior to the 50s that addresses tourism as a multidisciplinary problem. Stock / Annals of Tourism Research 39 (2012) 441–458 computer science. or ‘engagement regime’ (Thevenot. cultural studies. This is exemplified by many anthropological studies. compared to the disciplinary-based tourism studies in the 50s to 70s. We do not seek to operationalise interdisciplinarity into practical problems. and two issues can be detected. No subject limits per se can be detected. and so on. explanations. The first is the problem of scientific selforganisation related to existing definitions of tourism. but also Poland. Kadri & Be ´ dard.442 F. rather than as a research topic in itself. each discipline’s limitations are better understood now. 1981). and understandings of tourism. and delineated ‘system’ (Cornelissen. gender studies. in which tourism itself is not analysed as a topic. and the conditions of translating the disciplinary achievements as well as conceptual and methodological tools into an interdisciplinary approach to tourism. owing to the implication that touristic dimensions occur as actors engage this specific relationship to the world. Following the discussion about disciplines.

He concludes that tourism is not a social system like law or economics. we must consider that the definition of tourism is multifaceted. Towards a Relational Definition of Tourism If we try to analyse some key elements of tourism. we question the conceptual fit between system and tourism. since this notion of tourism is contained in many textbooks (see Bieger. particularly due to ‘general systems theory’ (Bertalanffy. and makes sense at the intersection of these traditions. multinational.F. M. transit route. 1968)—has led several authors to speak of tourism as a system or even a ‘tourism system’. autonomy.org). This article seeks to summarise the current debate in the light of broader reconstructions of scientific discourse and reflect from an interdisciplinary epistemological perspective. three geographical elements (generating region. defines tourism as a system of five elements: tourists. and a tourist industry. and functional closure? Pott’s (2007) recent contribution. This definition has had a broad impact in the German-speaking world. interestingly. ‘tourism is the relationships and phenomena that stem from the sojourn of strangers to a place (Ortsfremder). it is useful to consider some of the most important definitions provided during by scholars during the 20th century. Leiper (1979). different from other research topics. from a Luhmann-inspired system theoretical perspective. We ask the following questions: What is the order of construction of the field of knowledge constituted around tourism? Is it a paradigmatic order or an epistemic order? In what ways do the scientific object’s specificities constitute an important element of understanding of a new episteme? How do different definitions of tourism allow for a reconstruction of the field? TOURISM: A SPECIFIC COMPLEXITY Tourism can be seen as a scientific object with specific. 1994) as well as the International Association of Scientific Experts in Tourism (AIEST) since its foundation in 1951 (www. allows one to further question this research object. and destination region). are both similar at its core and differ significantly in terms of delineation—than to the heterogeneity of actors of what could be termed the ‘touristic field’. for Hunziker and Krapf (1942. self-organisation. Darbellay. teleology. This is due less to the different attempts to define tourism— which. 2006. including biology. The idea of a system—predominant in 70s discourses throughout all disciplines. Notably. Yet. One can identify and define several key elements of tourism.e.aiest. 21). whose work is a good example of this. p. i. 1995. limits to an environment. distinct qualities that produces a specific complexity. if through the sojourn no establishment for paid work is founded’. Stock / Annals of Tourism Research 39 (2012) 441–458 443 historical perspective. Kaspar. Does tourism have the qualities generally accorded to systems. Krippendorf & Mu ¨ ller. .

Therefore. and organisational limits from an identified environment. Heterogeneity of Actors. and the tourist is an important milestone in this respect. M. tourists inhabit places differently to residents. codes. governance. The Constituents of Tourism’s Specific Complexity in Contemporary Human Societies How does this scientific object’s complexity necessitate complexityladen observation? This is why we seek to clarify tourism’s key elements as a complex assemblage. norms. focussing therefore on the visual perception. the extreme diversity of practices.444 F. the globalisation of practices. 59) call this specific relationship the touristic attitude (posture touristique). such as technology. the ‘recreational turn’ from distinction to infusion and. Therefore. self-organisation. 1990) attempts to clarify this touristic attitude: it defines a specific way of looking at places. we can define the touristic. The enactment of this specific relationship is enabled by assembling multiple elements. Tourism as a relationship to the world constructs a specific enactment in order to exist. Building on these insights. MacCannell (2001) criticised this reduction to visual perception. actors. places. 2002.e. as a relationship to people. the multilocality and translocal relationships. It is possible to provide a relational account of the problem of defining tourism and of defining tourism as a specific relationship to the world. which is combined with bodily dis-placement and inhabiting a place of otherness (Equipe MIT. or society’s touristic dimensions. Knafou & Stock. its specific complexity arises through the following elements. practices. practices of controlled de-controlling of self-control in the sense of Elias and Dunning (1986)). and self in which re-creation occurs (i. we have multiple actors with differing . 2003). Because tourism is not primarily an economic activity but a relationship. Acknowledging these criticisms. MacCannell’s (1976) idea of the touristic as a relationship of semiotic quality between a marker. finally. but as a specific encoding of practices. Darbellay. Therefore the touristic bears the relation to a ‘other’ place and to otherness as a central problem. which is the indistinct background from which to isolate the forms of quotidian preoccupations’. we go further by defining tourist gaze not as visual perception. applying an attitude or a mode of engagement that is touristically informed. p. Bourdieu (1965. an attraction. This definition—as a specific relationship to the world enacted through mobility and recreation—will help us understand the specific complexity of this assemblage and relationship. markets. and values. objects. and defined it as follows: ‘To adopt what could be named the touristic attitude is to distance oneself from the relationship of inattentive familiarity with the quotidian world. combined with the playful decoding and encoding of practices. civilisation processes. Stock / Annals of Tourism Research 39 (2012) 441–458 owing to a lack of coherence. which we will explore here: the heterogeneity of actors. The notion of tourist gaze (Urry.

Darbellay. but by the distinct aspects of accommodation. the United Nations Educational.) is one of tourism’s spatial dimensions. local communities. while images and identities are reshaped through tourism’s ‘ethnoscapes’ (Appadurai. deserts. Tourism has developed from an exceptional. relax) and every kind of practice (skiing. 1996). site. One striking example is the definition of tourism by the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO). These associations of practices and places create new spatial relationships: centre (urban centres of the developed world) and periphery (the touristified margins)—are interdependent in a specific way. The emergence of a new tourism-informed oecumene through the domestication of formerly non-inhabited space (high mountains. organised at different scales. Globalisation has meant both the emergence of tourist places all over the world and access to tourist practices for formerly economically underdeveloped societies. societies. metropolis. This heterogeneity of actors is one mode of tourism’s complexity. etc. etc. resorts. but the roles of sightseeing or playing are unclear. another definition includes ‘business tourism’ and ‘medical tourism’. resort. restaurants. Antarctica. restaurants. restaurant. and hotels are clear. There is a large spectre of practices performed by tourists while on tour: every kind of place—countryside. A contradictory ideology of tourism as a positive enabler of economic development and a negatively rated so-called acculturation is enacted. in which every type of border crossing for more than 24 hours is seen as tourism. Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).F. play. tourist offices. destination image. seaside. Extreme Diversity of Practices. Thus. in which the flow of capital and images define a global field of tourism. etc. people. city. in which the roles of transport. Globalisation. national parks. on the other hand. transport. Multilocality and Translocal Relationships. . and economies has enabled tourism to become a producer of globalisation. 2007)—powerful actors such as the World Bank. Stock / Annals of Tourism Research 39 (2012) 441–458 445 interests. such as India and China. This spatial complexity. ‘multilevel governance’ is at stake (Mayntz. elite practice to industry-driven mass tourism that covers the whole oecumene. tourism’s specific complexity also lies in a specific touristic globalisation. M. the globalisation of firms. wealth circulates. shores. etc. even working (if not under local contract!). sites. transport. It transforms tourism into a globalising and globalised object. and finance fosters tourism. Hotel manager. people. and the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) define financial effects and cultural values for tourism. mountain. Tourists create relationships between places through bodily dis-placement from one place to another. The touristification of places. For example.—is an important element that defines tourism’s specific complexity. where the actors’ interests and competences are not necessarily led by tourism. are uncoordinated and create cacophonic voices in tourism. parks. tour operator. desert.—every kind of intentionality (discover. with highly differentiated tourist places—cities.

This probing into some constituents of tourism makes it clear that the idea of a system or an autonomous topic does not fit. (2) the desire. Concerning European cities. but also by various identification processes of tourists with the other. Touristic dimensions infuse practices and products of everyday life and are no longer contained to the extra-quotidian lifeworld (Lussault. drugs. trekking. While so-called mass tourism is massive only to its numbers. an element of the everyday. p.446 F. communities. golfing. Thus the touristic ‘infusion’ of different elements has become pervasive: urban development. visiting etc. 1986) through re-creation. food. Tourism is seen as a common horizon of the extra-quotidian. Civilisation. Hamburg. On the one hand. leading to binge drinking.). etc.e. M. Therefore. 122) writes: ‘The recreational turn is defined here as four interrelated processes: (1) the presence of tourists in urban places. city image. 2010) or relationships in a family reproducing or modifying a family’s relationships while on holiday. Instead. This ‘turn’ towards the touristic has resulted in more complex relationships. firms. It means that the model of a distinction between a temporal. images. and photographs of fish markets in Tokyo. etc. with which to interpret the world’. are all associated with touristic values. 1998). spatial. values of places. Tourism as a relationship that articulates recreation and alterity/otherness is a specific mode of self-directed and other-directed control of individuals. In this respect. Lussault (2007) sustains the thesis of tourism as a ‘common genre’ of the different elements of the social world. computer systems. playing music. cities. it is not one standardised product (Cuvelier. Other examples are gay tourists. tourism is an important element of individual development because a specific balance between losing and keeping self-control of emotions. orgiastic sex. there is a temporary loss of self-control and a ‘quest for excitement’ (Elias & Dunning. there is selfcontrol that avoids violence towards other individuals. and emotional exceptions to the ‘everyday’ is no longer adequate. a negative attitude towards tourism. and so . or Paris. to have tourists in their territory. This happens in contradictory ways that are differently enacted in various tourist practices. Darbellay. the question of identification is also raised by tourism: the touristic relationship to the world is driven not only by the recognition of otherness and the difficulty of dealing with otherness. where tourist practices help build sexual identity (Jaurand & Leroy. Stock (2007. A ‘Recreational Turn’. transport. products. Stock / Annals of Tourism Research 39 (2012) 441–458 drinking wine. imaginary. by local authorities or enterprises. Tourism appears as a phenomenon research that which is present in or with all the socially constituent elements we can think of: nature. places. 2007). for example. and (4) a general interpretation scheme—a gaze in the Foucaultian sense—based on tourism. surfing. Practices and products that focussing on the other’s experience of way of life are omnipresent in souvenirs. (3) rejection of tourism (i. ‘special interest tourism’ has grown and has rendered the formerly less complex assemblage of tourism in standardised practices more complex. On the other hand.

the heterogeneity of actors at different organisational levels. different from those found in sports. are there arguments in favour and against a paradigmatisation of tourism studies. The second is the problem of inadequacy of the mode of knowledge ‘that teaches us to separate (the objects of their environment. ‘i. 8). 1990. religious. even aesthetic and morphological’. they are ‘more than themes.e. tourism has a specific complexity. therefore appears as a scientific object of specific complexity. M. the development of a disciplinary matrix that encloses a field of thought (Kuhn. the more and more important. multidimensional. Following Cassirer’s (1929) distinction between a substantial and relational concept. It configures those elements in a specific way. economic. legal. education. and ecological.e. the disciplines one from another) and not to articulate things that are yet tied together’ (Morin. characterised by multidisciplinary approaches and delimitations. . on the other. Mauss (1960. and its specific historicity and development. 1962)? We posit the hypothesis that tourism has been subject to a non-paradigmatic convergence that has reorganised both disciplinary knowledge and the emergence of a field called tourism studies. 21). p. p. THE EMERGENCE OF TOURISM STUDIES: PARADIGM OR EPISTEME? We now turn to the place devoted to tourism in scholarship: How have the scientific observers organised their gaze on the topic? Is it a paradigmatic form of organisation or an epistemic one? If we take tourism’s complexity seriously. Tourism is confronted by the two aspects of complexity described by Morin (1999.). global. etc. p. a phenomenon mobilising all or a great number of social institutions. 2010) as well as of the ‘network of fractional coherence’ (Ren et al. 1999. This might be one reason for the highly differentiated field of tourism studies. deep and problematic inadequacy between on the one hand a fragmented knowledge in disjunctive elements. cultural. be it the spatial.. 2010). Indeed. 274). inseparably associated’ (Morin. Darbellay. social. its local embeddings. 2000. through its global interdependencies. political. Stock / Annals of Tourism Research 39 (2012) 441–458 447 on. i. separated in disciplines. the latter is enacted in different societal spheres. Owing to the specific arrangement of elements (i. Tourism. multidisciplinary.F. economical. the concept of tourism used in the social sciences could also be seen as specific kind of concept. transnational. 8): The first is the problem of the phenomenon’s ‘globality’. and. even transdisciplinary problems’.e. more than complex institutions’ (1960. This corresponds to Mauss’ conception of a ‘fait social total’. the military. p. individual. 274) defines the total social fact as phenomenon ‘at once legal. This is congruent with the idea of a post-disciplinary and indisciplined arrangement (Tribe. p. planetary realities and more and more transversal. the concept ‘tourism’ corresponds to a specific kind of concepts that expresses a relationship—rather than a substance—called tourism. more than elements. Furthermore. Tourism illustrates the idea of a ‘fabric (complexus: which is woven together) of heterogeneous constituents. Therefore.

. with the emergence of tourism geography as well as tourism economics. (2) a disciplinary fragmentation and specialisation. that is. The concept of paradigm is therefore related to disciplinarity and standardisation of by a self-organised scientific community that delineates a field of interest. Our working hypothesis is as follows: the concept of paradigm. detached of any support of founding subjectivity’ (Foucault. In fact. oppositions. an attempt at a theoryladen observation of tourism (Spode. M. free of any reference to origin or a historicaltranscendantal teleology. they establish that there is no economic prevalence of the phenomenon. The most striking contribution is made by Hunziker and Krapf (1942) and Hunziker (1943). Yet. they see tourism as a cultural problem and relate it to issues of health. policy. technology. By putting the tourist in the centre. Nevertheless. and anthropology since the 70s. 1994. social problems. 1998a. It means an ensemble of principles and methods shared by a specific scientific community. is free of any constituent activity. It develops a ‘wissenschafliche Fremdenverkehrslehre’. p. 2010). for the first time. 731). culture. where tourism is seen as a whole—interdependent with many elements of the then industrial societies. differences. Holistic Innovation Since the beginnings of the discovery of tourism for scientific observation. Prior to 1950. since it is related to disciplinarity and standardisation of knowledge. Hunziker and Krapf (1942) point out the problems of a holistic approach. 1994. By contrast. Darbellay. and (3) a more recent interdisciplinary fertilisation between 1995 and 2000. 1994. 676). does not allow to describe the dynamics of interdisciplinary knowledge in the relatively complex and heterogeneous domain of tourism studies. 1998b. p. there have been difficulties with dealing adequately with the research object and the development of disciplines.448 F. ‘episteme’—following Foucault (1969). 1993. we can distinguish three moments of the scientific approach of tourism: (1) a holistic approach to tourism as a system. Their definition of tourism as a relationship enacted by the local encounter between tourists and place relates tourism to the various dimensions of human societies. p. who attempt to build a field of tourism studies in which tourism is related to several societal issues. and economics. relations’ (Foucault. 676) articulated between the multiple scientific discourses: ‘it’s an open and indefinitely relationally constructed field’ (Foucault. By mobilising these notions. psychology. there have been interesting beginnings. Stock / Annals of Tourism Research 39 (2012) 441–458 Paradigm is used here in a way that follows one of the many meanings in Kuhn’s (1962) seminal text: disciplinary matrix. It takes into account the ‘gap. distances. there were attempts to build a field of ‘tourism studies’ (Fremdenverkehrskunde) in several publications. ‘One can say that knowledge as a field of historicity where sciences emerge. Foucault (1994)—refers to a field of formation and transformation of knowledge that cannot be reduced to an accumulation or a simple stage of the different bodies of knowledge at any moment of scientific development.

At the same time. Hence. This movement is consistent with disciplinary logic. Every discipline delineates a specific ‘area’ of a global knowledge and defines a certain perspective. in which researchers are ‘disciplined’ into a paradigm by a community of researchers. this would follow later. This period is identified by Spode (1998) in the German-speaking world as ‘specialisation’. social. the development of a theory-laden. some say this lasted from 1940 to 1970. A lack of interdisciplinary bibliographical cross-referencing is evident. rooted in business schools and the German equivalent of polytechnics (Fachhochschulen) (Spode. Darbellay. Bern with Forschungsinstitut fu ¨r Fremdenverkehr. and reduces tourism’s inherent complexity. This ‘renouncement’ of other points of view helps one to concentrate on disciplinary achievements. 1993). 1992. ‘the discipline circumscribes and relinquishes’ (Schlanger. As an example. economical. It recognises itself as local and partial’ (Schlanger. M. spatial. Such dissociation has an atomising effect on the scientific object called ‘tourism’ following a disciplinary logic. Stock / Annals of Tourism Research 39 (2012) 441–458 449 these holistic approaches lacked sound empirical and theoretical substance. the Deutsches Wirtschaftswissenschaftliches Institut fu ¨r Fremdenverkehr e. 2010). ‘every discipline constructs itself as delineated: it accepts its limits. However. 292). 1998). 292). p. paradigmatic organisation of the scientific knowledge on tourism has been blocked by this business-driven organisation. tourism was seen as a whole that was not reducible to disciplinary approaches.V. in Munich in 1950 was another milestone. A holistic approach to tourism guided these attempts. the institutionalisation of research on tourism was triggered in the 20s with attempts by Glu ¨ cksmann (in Du ¨ sseldorf and Berlin). One of the reasons has been the development of an applied science of tourism. Indeed. in the textbooks of tourism geography between 1970 and 2000. The cognitive base is closed to disciplinary knowledge. After World War II. Tourism is constructed as a scientific object for fragmented disciplines with disjunctive dimensions: its historical. who established the Archiv fu ¨r Fremdenverkehr in 1929 in Berlin. 1992. Therefore. Disciplinary Fragmentation A second moment of scientific approaches to tourism can be identified. political dimensions are treated in a ‘splendid isolation’ from one another by the various disciplines. different from another discipline’s perspective. Scientific work is done without engaging the different points of convergence or interactions between disciplinary constructed knowledge. 1998). cultural. Vienna and its Wiener Institut fu ¨r Fremdenverkehr followed in 1934. 1993. the attempt to create a new discipline called ‘tourism science’ (Fremdenverkehrswissenschaft) based on these theoretical underpinnings has been unsuccessful (Spode.F. the tourism’s dimensional unity ‘cannot be con- . while Sankt Gallen followed in 1941 with Seminar fu ¨r Fremdenverkehr (see Spode. p. while others say this endures to this day. only to be halted five years later by the Nazi regime (see Spode. only a handful of references refer beyond the discipline. As Spode (1998) notes.

translating them into their own problematisation. The scientific observation focuses on ‘the touristic’ in many varied research objects. disciplines take into account other disciplines’ framework or methodologies. At the same time. leading to the a domain called ‘tourism studies’. We can therefore conclude in favour of a . 1918). These practices have led to both a hybridization of disciplinary knowledge—for example. and Poser (1939). Senn. actors. Urry’s (1990) notion of ‘tourist gaze’ is widely cited through many disciplines—and a shared interdisciplinary knowledge of some elements of tourism. and Germany via the work of Mie ` ge (1934). At the same time. the sociological and anthropological perspectives are absent. and tourism economics have emerged as fairly independent disciplinary perspectives. Within each discipline. Tourism geography.D. The case of tourism geography is interesting. What is therefore at stake is the integration of different disciplines in order to think the specific complexity of tourism. the disciplinary perspective gains momentum and several Ph. Each discipline develops its own theoretical perspectives as well as conceptual and methodological tools. the process of the scientific object’s autonomisation– and thus the interrelationships with other disciplines—occurs. In the 30s. From the 50s. that can be considered as ground-breaking. anthropology only begins to engage with the problem in the 70s. although the approaches differ. Gilbert (1939). dissertations. 194).450 F. At the very moment tourism constitutes itself as a recognised sub-field within geography in the 70s. sociology. 2004. which leads to tourism economics. networks. articles. tourism anthropology. We can conclude that disciplinarisation and autonomisation of the topic occur simultaneously. M. Darbellay. 1933. and monographs appear in geography. with Pimlott’s (1947) account for England and Hunziker and Krapf’s (1941) account for Switzerland. 1983. Surprisingly. owing to an alleged lack of seriousness. The university departments around ‘tourism studies’ oscillate between business education and scientific research. 2010). Great Britain. with tourism both strengthening the disciplinary equipment and (re)emerging as an topic for discussion as a ‘field’. A disciplinary mode of investigation has developed around the research object ‘tourism’ since the 50s. the economic perspective is dominant (Ogilvie. the first disciplinary engagement as ‘tourism geography’ appeared in France. with the exception of Wiese (1929) and Knebel (1960). tourism as a research topic encounters much opposition. p. The 70s therefore represent a key moment. and ‘academic territories’ (Tribe. tourism sociology. economics. An Episteme for an Interdisciplinary Approach to Tourism These intertwining disciplinary and non-disciplinary developments around the tourism phenomenon allows for an approach to tourism studies as episteme. Stock / Annals of Tourism Research 39 (2012) 441–458 ceived otherwise than by excluding or occulting the diversity and vice versa’ (Morin & Piattelli-Palmarini. Historical approaches can be detected from the late 40s. Tourism studies currently comprise a heterogeneous configuration of institutions.

the different disciplines do not construct tourism identically. compromises and intellectual innovations are locally negotiated and in which highly . but that produces different imaginations of its content. clearly explicated theory and methodology. without critical distance towards its content. as a problem of governance. as a result of four aspects: the disciplinary distinction. Darbellay. an inter-disciplinary focus. Spode (1998c) shows how the instrumental vs. rather than take for granted.—constitutes a differentiating element of the episteme. Third. and the opposition between ‘grounded theory’ and the hypothetical-deductive style of scientific investigation. Finally. as a practice. incommensurable definitional referents. from a scientific perspective. tourism as mobility. cities. and the definition of tourism. First. p. is a typical stance in applied science. as a gaze. the methodology. rather than deriving from macro-theory. or as an intentionality rely on different. p. policies and politics for political science. etc. 1998c). a viewpoint which is responded to and felt by many of its scholars. the methodology-driven differentiation of the field is based on the qualitative-quantitative distinction. spatial arrangements. (2010. However. the reflexive use and of theories as well as serious vs. ‘the body of tourism research can be addressed as a strongly divided field of research. as a social problem—for instance social position of tourists and effects on local societies—for sociology. place practices. As Ren et al. 890) note. Furthermore. in which standards. For instance. This difference between the word (signifier)—‘tourism’—and the meaning (signified)—tourism as practice. tourism is a scientific object constructed on similar bases by various disciplines. the field is also informed by the distinction between an application-driven body of knowledge without theoretical ambitions and the scientific ethos (Spode. Stock / Annals of Tourism Research 39 (2012) 441–458 451 multidisciplinary organisation of institutions and knowledge constructed around tourism. as an economic sector or an economic activity. tourism is seen as a spatial problem—places. the difference between case studies and econometric studies. This leads to what Echtner and Jamal (1997. positivist and non-positivist traditions’.)—for geography. This is a non-paradigmatic organisation. Yet. These epistemological styles vary and give rise to an extreme heterogeneity of the field. integrated research. and the application of qualitative and quantitative methods. and for economics as pricing and allocation of financial resources as well as monetary effects. the difference between business and theory. the questions arise due to practical problems. playful commitments are key differences between the two. using the World Tourism Organisation definition of tourism as a basis for producing scientific knowledge and data. it may also be conceptualised as a network of fractional coherence. M. tourism as system. the generation of a theoretical body of knowledge. in which different epistemological styles are mobilised. etc. and qualities of space (resorts. World Tourism Organisation develops a specific kind of ‘emic’ knowledge for scientists to analyse. For instance.F. Tourism as a system. Second. 879) call the ‘disciplinary dilemma’ they state that an ‘evolution of tourism towards increased credibility as a field of study and towards disciplinary status include: holistic.

the practices. original emphasis). which describe post-disciplinary arrangements of tourism. methodologies. i. the places. Indeed. owing to the addition of closed disciplinary-shaped paradigms (Fourez. by approaching all the elements encountered as ‘re-creation plus otherness’. the juxtaposition of multiple disciplines raises the question of the possibility of cumulative knowledge and the dialogue between the heterogeneous discourses on tourism. It constitutes a dialogue of specialised knowledge. blending various philosophies and techniques so that the particular disciplines do not stand apart but are brought together intentionally and explicitly to seek a synthesis’ (Leiper 1981. Yet. but is subject to new epistemological obstacles. oppositions. 1994. Leiper (1981).e. and then . (2006). Bearing in mind our definition of tourism as a relationship to the world that allows people to encode/decode the different elements of reality in specific ways. 731) exist between the different disciplines. it is not possible to follow these authors in their proposal of a new discipline called ‘tourism studies. This is also apparent in the contributions of Coles et al. relations’ (Foucault. Darbellay. Therefore. Karpinsky & Samson. This dispositif of multiplicity encounters standardisation and institutionalisation of teaching and research practices. 1973). Leiper (2000) makes a plea for an interdisciplinary framework. the governance as well as the politics and policies. to date. since the research object is decomposed into multiples dimensions and perspectives. tourism has been studied within a multidisciplinary and not an interdisciplinary field. Leiper (1981) holds that a general theory of tourism should be built so as to better understand the empirical phenomena and to achieve a new discipline—called ‘tourology’—by means of interdisciplinary synthesis. and research techniques in order to understand how society’s touristic dimensions are constructed and reconstructed—at the level of the industry. Stock / Annals of Tourism Research 39 (2012) 441–458 diverse knowledge and ways of knowing are assembled and enacted’. How these interdisciplinary approaches could be explored in order to work on the different elements of society’s touristic dimensions? What are the epistemological obstacles and what are the advantages of such perspectives? What is Interdisciplinarity? If we try to thoroughly analyse the quality of interdisciplinary research on tourism. yet juxtaposed without interaction. based on ‘working between the disciplines. PROBLEMS OF INTERDISCIPLINARY APPROACHES TO TOURISM There have been ongoing calls for an interdisciplinary approach to tourism since the 70s. p.452 F. 72. 2002. distances. where ‘difference. M. we must define interdisciplinarity. p. It is nevertheless necessary to explore the advantages and limits of interdisciplinary theoretical frameworks. the knowledge on tourism can be framed as an episteme.

analyse. In a multidisciplinary approach. Darbellay. The interactions between different perspectives are essential in order to organise knowledge production. The different disciplinary approaches are therefore seen as complementary. Beyond merely juxtaposing disciplinary perspectives. Perrig-Chiello and Darbellay (2002). This confirms the institutionalisation and standardisation of teaching and research practices that are socially and historically situated and governed by scientific paradigms. and understand the complexity of a phenomenon. Following the insights of Thompson Klein (1990). Yet. it involves knowledge co-production. Interdisciplinary approaches involve two or more disciplines in dynamic interaction in order to describe. Furthermore. It reflects the traditional juxtaposition of several institutional communities of experts. we define the interdisciplinary approach as a process of mobilising different institutionalised disciplines through dynamic interaction in order to describe. organised in faculties. without any interaction between them. and Repko (2008) on interdisciplinary research. a topic or a theoretical and/or practical problem is dealt with on the basis of two or more disciplinary separate points of view. departments. Here. while being irreducible to any one specific discipline. it implements collaboration and integration between disciplines around a common purpose. M. sub-fields. 1999). and laboratories in relative autonomy. Cooperation and skills integration can take place at different levels of interaction: through the borrowing of another scientific field’s concepts or the transfer of concepts and methods of one scientific field to another. the mechanisms of hybridisation between disciplines can create new research fields. The process of dialogue between disciplines mobilises their expertise and tools. We can distinguish three important features of interdisciplinary research on tourism. First. Stock / Annals of Tourism Research 39 (2012) 441–458 453 analyse the way tourism fits into this scheme. The problems and question raised are situated literally . analyse. interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches. interdisciplinary work corresponds to a ‘mediation space’ coconstituted through interaction between different knowledge domains (Duchastel & Laberge. Complex and emergent knowledge is co-constructed by means of an interdisciplinary process on the basis of existing skills. while retaining an openness to other disciplines. we distinguish multidisciplinary. and understand tourism’s complexity. Tourism as a Research Object of Interdisciplinary Research Interdisciplinary research on tourism can be defined as the organisation of an interface between different disciplines and bodies of knowledge in order to analyse the manifestations and the existing complexities of society’s touristic dimensions. Interdisciplinary research involves organised coordination within a research process.F. but from the perspectives of several disciplines. It considers a research topic not only from one perspective. we concentrate on the multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches.

This is another reason why tourism studies can neither be a paradigm nor an autonomous ‘field of study’ (Lehre. and adequate description and explanation of touristic phenomena. and methodological toolboxes. Therefore. Darbellay. p. which multiple relationships with other elements of society. interdisciplinarity is a process of hybridization through ‘nomadism’. as noted by Karpinsky and Samson (1973. and different theoretical. Stock / Annals of Tourism Research 39 (2012) 441–458 ‘between’ (inter) the disciplines and cannot be solved by a disciplinary perspective. The dialogue between disciplines is based on the mobilisation of their specific competences and tools. The interdisciplinary approach to tourism therefore goes beyond the juxtaposition of disciplines and organises the collaboration of disciplinary knowledge. different scientific aims. Especially the self-protection due to disciplinary closures leads to struggles for influence. It is an open question whether it is possible to integrate the political science’s ‘governance’ and ‘institutional resource regime’. i. but has a new quality. and economic approaches to tourism propose specific competences. Tourism as a complex object is co-constructed within this interdisciplinary process on the basis of existing disciplinary competences. which make different selections when observing the empirical world. it gives the illusion of the possibility of an integrated field.e. of theory and of methodology’. how does an ethnographic description of tourist practices can be confronted to econometric models of tourist spending? This complementarity leads to contradictions and conflicts in discussions about a coherent.e. Second. studies) nor a unified science (Wissenschaft. Geographical.454 F. 17): ‘The disciplines have conserved a ‘‘no trespassing attitude’’ that stems from the traditional division of knowledge. It creates new concepts by assembling the different disciplinary elements. problems of data. Third. science) as ‘tourismology’: as a research object. ‘connecting bodies of knowledge’ that are separated in order to analyse the complexity of tourism’s manifestations. Those struggles for influence have come into being with the institutionalisation of the disciplines and raised problems related to their different conceptual approaches. the knowledge produced is not reducible to the disciplinary perspectives. is one of interdisciplinary work’s key issues. conflicts about best practices between scientists develop because of different epistemological backgrounds. The knowledge produced within the traditional disciplines is an important input for discussion. anthropol- . Tourism can be conceived of as a common scientific object within a perspective of co-production of knowledge. M. the interdisciplinary mode of research consists of capitalising on the different disciplinary bodies of knowledge in order to more adequately understand tourism. Yet. i. consistent. the circulation of concepts and practices. geography’s ‘centrality’. e´tudes. conceptual. but also on the of the perspectives of the other disciplines. Connecting the different bodies of knowledge is at stake: as Morin (1999) notes. despite the limitations of the different disciplinary perspectives. sociological. The construction of a common vocabulary. For instance. The disciplines have begun to struggle for their influence rather than establish links between them.

p. models. and cultural dimensions) are arranged specifically. Darbellay. . geography. Tourism is a case of the process of empowerment against the traditional disciplines since the 50s resulting from by organising research around a ‘theme or a research topic. No paradigmatic organisation of the knowledge on tourism is necessary. sociology’s ‘distinction’. Interdisciplinary movements within tourism are neither an ideological discourse (Palmade. 1983. The pervasive manifestation of tourism in society calls for an analysis of its modes of existence within the various elements. & Nahrath. 33) notes: ‘The interdisciplinary project delineates from epoch to epoch one of the great axes of the history of knowledge.. The organisation of tourism as episteme leads to a specific cognitive project in which the touristic dimensions of society.) arranged around a research object whose manifestations exist in every element of contemporary society. As Gusdorf (1983. there can be imagined a network of actors and actants (researchers. 31). Crevoisier.. and political science) must therefore all be mobilised when approaching society’s touristic dimensions. it does not follow from the adequacy of an interdisciplinary approach that there must somehow be a ‘tourism science’ or even a field of studies that needs unified textbooks. The progression of knowledge is realised through specialisation. economics. economic.g. the search for unity triggers the desire of a regrouping which would help to the intolerable crumbling of domains of knowledge and of researchers’. Yet. anthropology. The interdisciplinary approach articulates the double movement of disciplinary specialisation and the awareness of an autonomous logic of the touristic that has been emerging within ‘tourism studies’. approaches. etc. sociology. 2011). This development is consistent with the historical development of knowledge as a specialisation arranged around newly discovered research topics. 1977). Darbellay. concepts. The disciplines embodying such knowledge (e. Stock / Annals of Tourism Research 39 (2012) 441–458 455 ogy’s ‘culture’. Instead. It creates opportunities for the researcher by affording him some autonomy against the existing disciplines. the political. This focus on a specific dimension of society—the touristic manifestations of society—implies the arrangement of disciplinary knowledge in a specific way because the different dimensions of society (e. nor a new meta-science of tourism that proposes an ‘epistemological panacea to heal all the pains affecting the scientific conscience of our time’ (Gusdorf. is at the core of interdisciplinary approaches. spatial.g. temporal. M. CONCLUSION Tourism represents a scientific object that permits a privileged perspective on human societies and constitutes a certain vantage point. in one coherent description and explanation of tourism (Stock. not tourism as an autonomous system. institutions. Clivaz. social. economics’ ‘capital investment’. marketing’s ‘image’ etc. p.F. This is why an interdisciplinary approach fits with the cognitive project and the complex object.

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