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I have selected three academic journals articles that are done by different approaches which are related with my topic (sustainable tourism). The article that has been done by positivist approach which I select is "Measuring Residents' Attitude toward Sustainable Tourism: Development of Sustainable Tourism Attitude Scale" done by Hwan-Suk Chris Choi and Ercan Sirakaya published on Journal of Travel Research, Volume 43, May 2005, 380-394. The main objective of the study is to develop and validate measurement properties of a scale that measures residents` attitudes towards sustainable tourism development as subjective indicators (SUS-TAS). The study has provided a practical framework with which communities can periodically gauge community sentiment's toward tourism development within a new world-view. The study has also contributed an important input to the field of suitable tourism management.
There are many things that can indicate the above article is done based on positivist approach. When we look at epistemology of the above article, we can find so many evidences that can show us the research is done based on positivist approach. For instance, the study used pre-determined criteria to validate residents' attitude towards sustainable tourism. It also followed similar framework developed by others, used factor analysis in falsifying or conforming the pervious proposed dimensions of the scale, and aimed at establishing framework for sustainable tourism. One last point that can show us the positivist epistemology from the article is the authors made content validity and reliability test to make precise scientific explanation and perdition of sustainable tourism.
When we look at the methodology of the article, there are points that can witness the article is done based on positivist approach. The study used empirical investigation, quantitative technique (exploratory factor analysis (EFA) using principal comments analysis), and self-administered survey study. Furthermore the authors made their best level to maintain neutrality of the study using independent experts to review the purity of the scale that is used which shows us the researchers were independent from the subject. Finally, the study built measurement tool to assess progress toward sustainable tourism. At the end, the study suggested the developed scale is proved to be used by different stakeholders of sustainable tourism that can also show us the objectiveness of the reality (ontology). Generally, the above mentioned tangible evidences on the articles epistemology, methodology, and ontology makes us to say the article is researched based on positivist approach.
My second selected article which has been done by interpretivism research approach is "Ecotourism in the rangelands: landholder perspectives on conservation" done by Emily Moskwa. This article was published on Journal of Ecotourism Volume 9, Number 3, November 2010, 175-186. The main objective of the study was to assess the potential for ecotourism to assist ecological recovery in the pastoral setting of Flinders Ranges, South Australia. The study has contributed its own share by showing the relevance of experience sharing for the support of ecotourism in a heuristic method of collective judgment.
To identify the type of approach that the second article used, it is important to look at the ontology, epistemology and methodology of the study. When we look at the ontology of the article, the study showed the value in sharing perceptions and experiences among the landholders to encourage ecological recovery. Thus, it is possible to say that people possess an internally experienced sense of reality and what people think and feel is important. To strengthen our genuine judgment of the approach used by the study, it is better to look at epistemological part of the study. The study used heuristic method of intuitive judgment which shows the common sense reflects powerful everyday theories held by ordinary people. Finally, there are clearly stated points in methodology of the article that can help us to say the research is done based on interpretivist approach. The study used in-depth one-on -one interview, informal conversations and observation, and opinion sharing method. In doing so, the study acknowledged the value of interview in understanding the situation. The role of the researcher in the study was developing an understanding of the whole and deep understanding of how each part relates and is connected to the whole by taking keyword notes and recording phrases on paper and finally converted it to themes. Thus, the ontology, epistemology and methodology of the study clearly indicate the article is done based on interpretivist approach.
The third article that I have finally selected is "Why sustainable tourism must address climate change" that is done by Daniel Scott. This article was published on Journal of Sustainable Tourism Volume 19, Number 1, January 2011, 17-34. The main objective of the study is critically examining and responding to the seven interrelated issues presented by Weaver to support that opinion about sustainable tourism`s current expanding engagement with climate change. The study dispels some common climate science myths that continue to hamper scientific progress and obfuscate debate over policy responses and specifically refutes recent claims of compromised and inaccurate research findings.
To identify the approach that has been used in the article, it is good at ontology, epistemology and methodology of the study. When we look at ontology of the study, the study tried to look at different parties interest (like regulators, investors, insurers, and clients) to make them accept scientific evidence on climate change that can affect sustainable tourism. This point shows us there is challenge to claims to the truth and objectivity. Furthermore, the study demands greater refection on the future of tourism development in a carbon-constrained global economy that shows us how people can reconstruct their own world thought action and reflection. It is also good to look at epistemology of the article to get more evidence to judge the approach of the study. The study has looked at the deficiency of past researchers on sustainable tourism that only considered one issue and suggested on looking it from different angles that shows us the effect of multiple structures. The study has also focused on developed theories about sustainable tourism by deconstructing the Weavers study. The researcher suggested different researches to improve the research capacity in the climate change and tourism. This shows us the research finding is partial and incomplete.
The final points can be taken from the methodology of the article to know clearly the approach of the study. The study used discursive analysis and deconstruction as it tried to look at Weavers study. By doing so, the Author gave his meaning on that to legitimate claims to knowledge (clearing the air) and refutes recent claims of compromised in accurate research findings (silence other forms of knowledge). The researcher was telling us his position and experience as an important element of giving meaning to the research which shows us the value of the researcher is highly influential. Generally, points from ontology, epistemology and methodology parts of the article witnesses us to say the study has conducted based on poststructuralist approach.
As I have tried to show my postionality on postionality assignment, I am still belief in positivist approach of undertaking research, understanding the nature, and producing knowledge. In dealing with sustainable tourism, I belief that positivist approach is the best approach based on many reasons. The first reason is that this approach helps us to predict the clear implication of current tourism activity in the future and thereby suggest concerned body to take corrective measurement from the scratch. Not only knowing the cause effect relationship of tourism and sustainability but also positivist approach helps us to scientifically explain the current scenario of sustainable tourism. My second reason to say that positivist approach is the best approach to investigate about sustainable tourism is that this approach helps us to look at different researchers finding about sustainable tourism and to know the common points of majority's research. Thus, this process can help us to make finally clear conformation of epistemological thinking of sustainable tourism. Through scientific method which includes hypothesis formulation, hypothesis falsification, validity, reliability and objectivity that the truth about tourism is can be established (Tribe, 2006).
Another reason that can make sense using this approach to deal with sustainable tourism is that the positivist approach is the best approach to develop well proven sustainable tourism model and principles that can be applied everywhere else. This can be strengthened by Hughes who said "that the dominant approach to sustainable tourism is technical, rational, and scientific" (cited in Tribe, 2006). One well known scholar, Eldabi et al said "that a well-developed research methodology can provide an understanding of the products and processes of scientific enquiry" (cited in Pansiri, 2005). The development of scientific and objective models to assess the eco-sustainability of tourism areas is needed (Jiang, 2009).
Even if tourism including sustainable tourism can be researched using the interpretivist and critical approach, still positivist approach is the dominant approach being used by different researchers. Riley and Love`s said "that the dominant method in tourism study is positivism" (cited in Tribe, 2006). As quick solution is needed to sustainable development problem which includes sustainable tourism in it, well proven research approach is preferable than young approach which is not that much developed. Thus, the type of approach advisable for studying sustainable tourism depending on its urgency is positivist approach. Even if, Jemal and Hollinshed said "that there is progress in presence of qualitative research (cited in Tribe, 2006), still positivist approach is the dominant approach in tourism. Scholars like Seaton, Mckercher, and Tribe said "that journal editors, reviewers, academic publishers are supporters of positivist research" (cited in Jennings, 2012). This is to mean that most of scholars are supporting this approach based on its benefit. Quantitative method which is used by positivist approach has got more acceptances because of many deficiencies on qualitative method that can be used either by interpretivist or critical approach. For instance, Miles and Mehmotoglu said "that one of the most serious and central difficulty in the use of qualitative data is that the method of analysis are not well formulate" (cited in Jennings, 2012). Guba and Lincoln also said "that qualitative research has been prone to criticism that is a soft, non-scientific, and inferior approach to studying social life" (cited in Phillimore & Goodson, 2004).
It is true that qualitative researches that are being addressed by interpretivist and critical approach in tourism are common at this time and creating good atmosphere for debate over the suitability of approaches. I belief that such atmospheres should be encouraged as no one is perfect approach. There is no perfect and universally agreed debate about the meaning of science, procedures, protocol and epistemological claims (Pansiri, 2005). Even though I am still supporting positivist approach, I cannot deny its limitation that can be addressed by either interpretivist or critical approach. My position has decided based on relativeness that makes positivist approach as legitimate approach to sustainable tourism as this approach helps us to develop a framework that can balance the interest of economic, social and environmental aspects. I am not saying that this approach almost able to understand full account of epistemology but important and best approach with sustainable tourism especially to see the impact of tourism in the future through causal explanation.
Recently it is common to see that based on the weakness of both extreme approach, pragmatism approach is getting acceptance as well. However, this approach also not denies the importance of positivist in its methodology. For instance, those who are supporting pragmatism approach agree with positivists regarding the existence of an external world independent of people`s mind (Pansiri, 2005).
It is also common to see that training on how to undertake research is being given including on sustainable tourism that can show us the importance given to similarity in procedure to creation of the knowledge required to solve the existing problem. The positivist approach helps the readers easily understand the result of the research. According to (Jennings, 2007)researches done by positivist approach clearly indicate the heading of the research report as introduction, background, literature review, methods, findings, results and recommendation. These parts of the research are very important for the user of the research report to easily understand about the report. This is what anyone who reads the report looks for.
As sustainable tourism is a vast concept, that involves different interest in it, it is difficult to incorporate each and everyone's view which interpretivist approach deals with. More additional problems in interpretivist approach is less clear evaluative criteria for monitoring progress of sustainable tourism. When we look at the critical approach it is weak in controlling exogenous factors that can affect the result of the research in sustainable tourism but positivist approach helps us to minimize their effect and produce genuine result. Thus, it is possible to say that positivist approach in comparison to interpretivist and critical approach is suitable approach to study sustainable tourism.
Generally, as the tourism is fast growing sector in most of the countries with the help of the effect of globalization, UNWTO is initiating an effort to adopt environmental code of conduct for tourism at the current time that gives emphasis to sustainable tourism. This issue can help us to make clear that economic development through mass tourism is being sustainable to the society and the environment. To do so, genuine and empirical researches are needed to make the effort to be rewarding. The best approach in relative term that can fulfill this mission is positivist approach. In short, this approach is objective, empirical, rational, systematic, measurable, needs verification and enables scientific explanation of sustainable tourism than can make its feasibility. I am not supporting purely positivist approach to deal with sustainable tourism. I believe that post positivism approach has great power to deal with sustainable tourism as this approach enables us to look at theory for interpretation of the result. Boyd and Guba said "that reality cannot be fully understood or explained by observation alone and that theory is needed to interpret the potential diversity of cause and effect" (cited in Khakee, 2003).