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Journal of Sport & Tourism

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Epistemological issues on sport tourism: challenge for a new scientific field

C. Pigeassou, G. BuiXuan & J. Gleyse Available online: 28 Mar 2007

To cite this article: C. Pigeassou, G. BuiXuan & J. Gleyse (1999): Epistemological issues on sport tourism: challenge for a new scientific field, Journal of Sport & Tourism, 5:2, 18-27 To link to this article:

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C. Pigeassou, G. Bui-Xuan and J. Gleyse ABSTRACT The epistemological approach is best suited to seize and understand the basis of sport tourism, for it allows a questioning of the produced knowledge in this area. Historically, scientific domains are defined in relation to each

other by specifying, more or less quickly, their subject. This is a generalised process from which no sector of knowledge escapes which seeks to be autonomous. This a situation that sport tourism must face today. Can sport tourism be considered as an independent scientific domain ? Do the activities of sport tourism fall within the category of sport tourism ? If various historical, sociological, psychological and economical approaches are likely to shed light on the various aspects of sport tourism, these approaches are not able to specify its domain. Only careful thought on how knowledge is structured in this domain can provide a critical and constructive view on the framework of sport tourism. In this perspective, the purpose of this article will be to identify the recurring questioning on this subject. Three types of questions will be addressed. The first type concerns the boundaries of the field of sport tourism. What are the elements that define and circumscribe this field ? From their listing to the classification of their activities, a concern for thoroughness has been overpresent. Nevertheless, to question what may constitute this domain's relevance is legitimate. The nature of the activity, the context, its duration and the interactions it produces are such that they differentiate the productions of sport tourism from those of sport and those of tourism. The second type of questioning concerns the nature and the type of relations that link sport tourism to others activities that relate to sport or to tourism. On the one hand sport tourism contributes to the expansion of sport and tourism in general and on the other hand it trends to occupy a unique economical niche from the stand point of a management or a marketing perspective. The third type concerns the analysis of various processes and mechanisms that occur in this domain. From a general perspective, economical and sociological mechanisms determine the outputs of sport tourism, but the evolution of these outputs is characterised by processes of innovation, massification and diversification. These elements tend to indicate that sport tourism represents a specific domain of service production connected to tourism and sport.

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1. An inheritance that will bear fruit With the creation of the Journal of Sports Tourism in October, 1993, the first foundations of the sports tourism identity were laid down in a series of articles with a monographic or analytical aim. Since the 1980's it has also been possible to find several isolated monographs in magazines such as "Espaces" (in French), or the "Annals of Tourism Research", "Leisure Management", the "Journal of Leisure Research", or the "Journal of Travel Research" (in English). But most of these works only deal with sport in relation to tourism as a complementary activity that widens the range of services, bringing extra benefits to tourism. This statement remains valid for present-day articles and the studies which confine sports tourism to a more general category: tourism. According to the particular treatment given by each country (The Ministrj' of Tourism or internationa] organizations such as OCDE, OMT), this approach will dominate. The status within and the relationship of sport to the tourist field must be precisely analyzed and weighed up in relation to the development of tourism and sport over the last thirty years and according to the research already accomplished (Kurtzman, 1993,1995; Gammon and Robinson, 1997). The aim of this article is to bring to light through epistemological considerations the way in Which the accumulated knowledge and the renewal of the theses have had a tendency to make sports tourism independent of sport, on the one hand, and of tourism, on the other. We believe that a new discipline is being created, and its originality lies in the questions it raises and in the research it encourages. 2. Remarks on epistemology Identifying sports tourism as a new field of knowledge requires the reconstruction of the history of this idea. This will allow its identity to be defined and its affiliations determined. This quest with its epistemological direction aims

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at going beyond the construction of "a spontaneous philosophy" (Althusser, 1974), in order to reach an "elaborated code" (Douglas, 1970) or to satisfy at once a hermeneutic interest and an "emancipatory interest" (Habermas, 1973). "The construction of reality" (Berger & Luckmann, 1967) in sports tourism can only operate with reference to the socially constructed meanings that are sport and tourism. Sports tourism only developed at a particular stage in the evolution of tourism and sport in the social and economic environment of western societies. Tourism and sport have been associated historically since the birth of winter sports in the Alps at the beginning of the 20th century in Europe. But sports tourism as an entity in itself only came into existence in the 1950's. The term "sports tourism" only appeared in the middle of the 1970's in France and Europe. In modern tunes, sport and tourism appeared in the 19th century and have since undergone the metamorphoses and transformations that place them now at the heart of the social life of western societies. Numerous works - social, historical, sociological, economic, geographic have contributed decisively to the understanding of these phenomena by trying to grasp the major processes that organize and structure them. Their aim is to define a field of knowledge particular to these phenomena. These efforts at widening the field of knowledge have established both sport and tourism as scientific subjects. Sports tourism has today reached a stage of emancipation and autonomy that separates it from the field of tourism and of sport. The different studies published, the number of which has multiplied over the past ten years, have created the "scientific subject" specific to this field. They have aimed at setting out the rules that, as a whole, structure sports tourism and define its objects. It is a question of establishing how the corpus of knowledge is organized. In other words, the stage reached today in the development of knowledge in sports tourism would seem to be that of the recognition and Iegitimization of that knowledge organized around a method of apprehending it and a series of predetermined hypotheses. These elements give body to the knowledge that is being constituted. They form a mental structure, conscious or subconscious, that allows the world to be classified and ordered so that we are able to take part in it (Kuhn, 1970; Barnes, 1982). What is emerging with sports tourism is a new way of considering tourism and sport and, hi a wider context, the world. This new method is constructed in harmony with the cultural, economic and social conditions of an age. 3. From sport and tourism to sports tourism In the context of sports tourism, the rules, principles, norms and instruments that structure the phenomena as a whole must be defined, and this will be achieved by following the inspiration provided by both sport and tourism. Before studying these phenomena in more depth, it will be necessary to set out the fundamental distinctions that create the classifications and categories that will allow the development of the corpus of knowledge. This ordering process is in itself articulated around the organizing principles that define the object for study. Different proposals (Kurtzman, 1995,1997; Gammon & Robinson, 1997; De Knop, 1987; Pigeassou, 1997) define sports tourism according to the objective and subjective dimensions hi relation to the numerous and diverse definitions of sport, and the even more precise definitions of tourism as set out by such official organizations as the World Tourism Organization, the World Travel and Tourism Council, the European Economic Union, National Government The difficulty in defining the field lies in the objectivity of its dimensions and in their articulation. As it is in direct contact with tourism, sports tourism has borrowed from that field two of the dimensions that define it: space, which is transposed into the disciplinary field as the notion of displacement or journey, and time, which is transposed as a stay. A relationship of interdependence is established between these two dimensions. A short journey does not entail a stay away from the usual place of residence. On the other hand, a long journey will necessarily entail a stay of the "tourist" type. These objective elements can undergo a process of evaluation that will set out the discriminatory thresholds that will help in determining the boundaries of the subject. If different organizations retain thresholds of different duration according to their aim, a scientific basis cannot be established unless pertinent markers are adopted by all alike. The thresholds used to define a tourist stay which are most commonly observed in European tourism statistics are the following minimum thresholds of:- one day (the UK, Portugal, Austria), - four days (Europe, Belgium, Spam, France, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, the UK)

- five days (Germany, Denmark). In order to take into consideration the sports tourism environment and its specificity, the threshold that would seem to best define a sports tourism stay is a stay of at least 24 hours, that is to say, a stay that would imply at least one night spent away from home. This minimum stay is the most important objective element which characterizes a form of tourism. The 'journey' element is accessory, and yet essential, because of the consequences brought about by the stay itself. The distance travelled or the duration of the journey is a source of many phenomena linked to consumerism. The essence of sports tourism, however, cannot be confined to these elements alone. It also includes some of the dimensions of sport. At this level it is absolutely essential to solve a double problem. In the definition of tourism, the understanding of the phenomenon and its limits is based on two elements: the duration of the stay and the motive behind it. Tourism is defined as a leisure activity that has been freely chosen and organized according to individual choices determined by motive and the cultural environment By focusing on this subject, a psychological approach is favoured, which enliances the subjective element or a rationalization a posteriori in the analysis of this practice. This observation is a stumbling-block, an obstacle to the validation of tourism as an object of scientific study. In the context of sports tourism, the objective dimension of sport is concentrated and condensed in the links of subordination that sport imposes on the tourist object. Without this subordination, sports tourism would not exist and the activities described or observed would be confused with tourism phenomena. The obstacle arises when this link of subordination is transformed into a simple relationship, or interrelationship. The link of subordination defines at once the sense of the relationship and the strength of that relationship: without the existence of sport, it would not be possible to make sports tourism objective. If this methodological choice could seem debatable, it would nevertheless seem to be the only scientific direction that would determine the phenomena of sports tourism in a rational manner. Another stumbling-block is the difficulty in limiting or defining the concept of sport. If historians and sociologists have risked putting forward definitions with a historical basis, the contemporary "expansion" of the sports phenomena has enlarged and complicated the concept of sport. Nevertheless, it would be impossible to grasp the concept of sports tourism without taking into account the limits of the field of sport. By remaining within the field of the social sciences, the sports phenomena illustrate a series of facts that are visible in society and that can be studied and researched. This empiric approach is opposed to a normative approach so that the contemporary developments in sport will be enhanced. According to this approach, the concept of sport can be defined as a series of phenomena, outward signs and productions generated by and associated with the practice of physical activities locally or universally recognised and adopted. This methodological choice has been guided by a desire for clarity and objectivity so that the frontiers dividing facts from phenomena can be traced. It may be considered debatable in the sense that it is based on observation, it does not have a structuring purpose and it does not organize the field of sport but lays emphasis on the heuristic power of a dynamic approach to the activities concerned. It opens up ways of understanding sports tourism. The birth of sports tourism as a discipline demands the adopting of a matrix that will allow the phenomena for study to be determined. The first operators of this matrix can be described as follows: - a stay that combines two variables: a journey and a duration, - a link of subordination to socially identifiable practices that makes up - a group of phenomena under the heading of sport. These three operators, functioning together, mark out the field of sports tourism. They operate in such a way as to produce a rupture of an epistemological type, that is to say, a break that divides the phenomena and prevents any confusion between sport and tourism and sports tourism. This separation, which marks the first stage in the construction of the object, constitutes what Bachelard has called "the epistemological ruptures" (1971), that is to

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say, the ruptures that bring a certain knowledge. This separation also allows a series of questions to be eliminated as they are no longer considered valid, in particular those which situated sport within tourism. The idea of sports tourism is not an ideologically neutral one, it depends on a vision of the world and of society in general and of sport and tourism in particular. Sports tourism has marked out for itself a field of practices in which the sports phenomena are the basis for the tourist project. The sports medium is the first characteristic of and the most important element in sports tourism.

Figure n.l: The characteristics of sports tourism (Pigeassou, 1998) The integration of the sports object is at the root of the tourist project and is not just a simple element or addition. A tourist holiday that includes a sports dimension defined in advance goes beyond the field of sports tourism. In this case, the stay will be regarded as tourism with a sports dimension or with sports characteristics or a multi-activity or sports discovery holiday. This distinction is based on the role of sports mediation in the tourist project as opposed to the sports element as integrated in the wider project without any determining function and as a substitute activity. (Figure n 2) The goal to be reached in taking this direction is to bring to light the stakes that surround the birth of the field of knowledge in relation to sports tourism. In this pre-paradigmatic period, methodological choices are essential to identify and clarify the limits of the field. This contribution, like so many others before it, only represents one step towards the future autonomy of the corpus of knowledge. At this stage of its development, legitimate questions are being asked about the nature and form of the relationship that unites sports tourism to other practices that belong to the fields of sport or tourism. Clarifying the notion does not necessarily mean that the phenomena defined by sports tourism could not be analyzed through transversal methodologies used in the study of tourism and sport In any case, the paradigms of sports tourism could be defined and emphasized by the light that can be thrown on them by

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ACTIVITIES WITH A CORPORAL MEDIATOR Examples: - the practice of sport at competition level - the techniques of discovery and corporal education - the practice of fitness through sport - the practice of adventure sports

ACT.IVJT.ES WITH A CULTURAL AND/OR ARTISTIC MEDIATOR IN THE FIELD OF SPORT Examples: - manifestations, shows, events - lectures, sem i na rs, congresses - visits (monuments, museums...)

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TOURISM "The relationships and facts as a whole that are made up of the journey and stay of people outside their usual places of residence, in so far as this stay and journey are not motivated by any profit-making activity whatsoever". (Hunziker & Krapf, 1942)

SPORT "The phenomena, manifestations and productions as a whole that are generated by and associated with the physical activities locally or universally recognized and adopted". (Pigeassou, 1998)

STAY A stay of at least 24 hours away from home.

LINK OF SUBORDINATION (The object and aim of the stay are determined by)


Figure n. 2: The generic forms and declensions of sports tourism (Pigeassoti, 1998) different scientific fields. But sports tourism offers many aspects, each scientific domain focusing its analysis on a reading of the phenomenon that favours one aspect to the detriment of the others: geography, history, economics, psychology, sociology are sometimes in conflict over the interpretation of the phenomenon. Diversity of approach can throw a conceptual shadow: a source of confusion and approximation which could harm the emergence of a specific body of knowledge.
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This study is part of a wider reflection, the aim of which is to build up a specific status for sports tourism. The foundations of this field of study, though still a little disorganized, have been laid over the last ten years in numerous writings, often in the form of monographs. In these works, sports tourism can be grasped generally as tourism and sport in the form of consumer objects whose aim is consumer satisfaction. The question of the meaning of sports tourism would tend to fade away in relation, on the one hand, to social function, and on the other, to its economic or managerial aspects. The question seems to us fundamental, however, in three of its aspects: the relationship to oneself, to others, and to space. The further exploration of these three aspects should give a firmer anthropological basis to these fields of knowledge whose dominant registers are today economic. In this initial phase, it is necessary to set out the different types of axes that could be used to direct research with a programmatical aim in order to favour the questions that would orient the analysis of the different processes and mechanisms that intervene in this field. The works already published have attempted to set out the characteristics of the economic mechanisms rather than describing them or analyzing them, or debating the sociological or psychological elements that are at the root of the productions belonging at once to tourism and to sport However interesting and necessary these works may be, they illustrate the limits of the questions that recur and that are at their base. The setting out of a specific frame to define the field of knowledge, a pre-paradigmatic stage, should only be the starting point for a more ambitious project which would aim at developing an academic subject All that remains to be done is to promote a research programme which would encourage more thematic studies, thus avoiding the stumbling-block of descriptive monographs that are at once too subjective and too general, or collections of generalized statistics. Four axes could be used to organize this research: an anthropological one, a sociological one, a managerial axe and an economic axe. For each of these axes, some phenomena should be favoured in the research as the dynamic elements to be used to constitute the subject (Table n 1). The list is neither exhaustive, nor restricting. Between these phenomena, relationships of proximity or even interdependence exist.

Investigational axes in sports tourism

! Types of phenomena or heuristic processes for the j development of a disciplinary field

j j


\ Phenomena associated with the subject's experience Phenomena of motive and representation Cultural and intercultural phenomena (identity, banalization, worldwide application) Historical phenomena Philosophical phenomena . '

| } j | j \ ! | \

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\ Phenomena of the masses Phenomena of localization, delocalization and relocalization Innovatory phenomena (in the activities or in the productions) Appropriation phenomena Differentiation phenomena (sociological and economic aspects)

[ 1 [ [ i \ 1 ; |


; Production phenomena Management phenomena Marketing phenomena (products, range of products, places) Competitive phenomena (between customer zones, reception zones)


Economic repercussion phenomena Development phenomena Project conception phenomena Development and economic situation phenomena

Table n c 1: Markers for a prospective development of knowledge in the field of sports tourism In this organizational scheme, the dominant disciplmary matrix gives the angle for entry into the research subject. The development of research in the directions here laid out would allow a fuller body of knowledge to be established and would mark the beginning of the paradigmatic period in the disciplmary field known as sports tourism. 4. A challenge to be taken up

At the end of this epistemological analysis of the creation of a field of knowledge in sports tourism, it would be wise to measure the distance covered and that remaining to be covered before the paradigmatic stage marking its establishment is reached. The present stage is characterized by the absence of answers to the recurrent foundation questions of the field. Reluctance to dissociate and separate the phenomena has become an obstacle that has prevented further reflection. This paper, starting with an analysis of the key elements in the phenomena, has created a rupture, the aim of which is to define the limits of the field of knowledge in question. This operation, that was begun in the different research papers already published, represents the birth of a discipline called sports tourism. In this pre-paradigmatic phase, it is necessary to trace the elements of the disciplinary matrix and to set down a programmatic table of the research to be accomplished to help sports tourism achieve the status of an established discipline. The growing interest for this field makes us believe that with the arrival of new researchers in the future and the increase in the number of research papers, this aim should be achieved in the coming years.
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