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After referring to a number of state-of-the-art conferences and to those sociologists and anthropologists who have undertaken similar appraisals in relation to tourism theory, this article concentrates on a number of issues recently raised by Brown, Meethan, and Seaton. These redesignated themes are treated under the following queries: Literature reviews or mindless trawls? Eureka moments or regurgitation? Eclecticism or monoideism? Black holes or topic avoidance? Maturity or infancy? Cumulatively they act as a framework for the discussion that follows. Separately they expose several uncomfortable trends and pose some awkward questions. Tourism scholars are entitled to ask, for instance, whether reviewing the literature has become too much of a ritual activity associated with a Teutonic treatise syndrome and tendencies towards ethnocentrism and autocitation. They may legitimately reexamine claims to originality by inspecting the provenance of ideas of leading commentators. They can evaluate the respective merits of a micro-pick-and-mix approach when contrasted with grand theory. They can point to those areas in tourism research that have been overlooked and ask why they have been neglected. In such a manner, they are able to confront the final dilemma as to whether advances in the field are genuine or spurious.

Keywords: Eclecticism; Progress; Reviewing the literature; Sociology/anthropology of tourism; Source of “original” ideas

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: International Tourism Research Centre, University of Luton, Bedfordshire LU2 8LE, UK

Publication date: January 1, 2005

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  • The aim of Tourism Analysis is to promote a forum for practitioners and academicians in the fields of Leisure, Recreation, Tourism, and Hospitality (LRTH). As a interdisciplinary journal, it is an appropriate outlet for articles, research notes, and computer software packages designed to be of interest, concern, and of applied value to its audience of professionals, scholars, and students of LRTH programs the world over.
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