To boldly go where no van has gone before: auto-ethnographic experimentation and mobile fieldwork

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    In order to contribute to contemporary debates around the ‘moral turn’ in tourism studies (Caton, Butcher, Bergman, Sager et al) this chapter is concerned with both processes and practices of experimental fieldwork as an embodied practice. Using an auto-ethnographic approach for my doctorate research, (VW Campervan Subcultures, Tourism Mobilities and Experience) I took the position of both the researcher and the researched. Therefore it became imperative to consider the ethical issues which emerged from conducting a cultural anthropology in which the author was both an ‘insider/outsider’ Lett (1990) The discussion aims to explore whether moral encounters are even possible due to the researcher having developed a kinship with the ‘communities of affiliation’, Brown and Mussell (1984:11) prior to the study. Having established a connection with research subjects due to my own VW Campervan ownership, whilst became a potential passport to access those subcultures on a more intimate level, conversely those relationships were also problemetized for ethical reasons as data collection could no longer be clandestine. Had I just mined members of my ‘tribe’ for data without considering whether my principles of knowledge production were socially responsible, reliable and transparent, biased or self-deceiving; then the researcher’s moral maxims would be questionable. By exploring the fine line between immorality and prudence on this issue, this critical debate will look at the staging difficulties associated with an interpretive enquiry where researcher inter-subjectivities have the potential to shape the methodological design and outcomes. As Gubrium & Holstein (1997, p.9) points out "research procedure constructs reality as much as it produces descriptions of it". Thus considerations about whether robust ethical procedures can reduce an ethnographer’s capacity to gather trustworthy data will be also be contested.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationMoral Encounters in Tourism
    EditorsMary Mostafanezhad, Kevin Hannam
    Place of PublicationLondon
    PublisherTaylor & Francis
    Number of pages11
    ISBN (Electronic)9781315596068
    ISBN (Print)9781472418449
    Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2014

    Publication series

    NameCurrent Developments in the Geographies of Leisure and Tourism
    PublisherTaylor and Francis


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