My PhD Journey - Dr Victoria Eichhorn
Thursday 19 April 2012
Dr Victoria Eichhorn was awarded her PhD by the University of Surrey. We asked Dr Eichhorn to describe the focus of her thesis and her research objectives for the future.
My PhD journey ran alongside a full-time job as Lecturer in Tourism at the University of Surrey. Having worked before as Research Officer in accessible tourism as part of European Projects, and given my strong interest in exclusionary practices, I wrote my PhD about the construct of social exclusion in tourism.
Entitled ‘On the edge looking in? – A performative analysis of social exclusion and disability’, the research investigates what social exclusion ‘IS’ by examining the lived experiences of people with a disability and what the use of the concept ‘DOES’ to identity positions of individuals. Central to both lines of inquiry are social relations of power which try to keep individuals in a marginalised position.
However, the research also identified positive forms of power by identifying resistance strategies, which previously remained hidden from the tourism research agenda. Guided by a dual-paradigmatic framework embracing interpretivism/ constructivism and critical theory, the study also highlights the potential of bringing performativity to the empirical stage.
Following a narrative research strategy, I interviewed people with restricted mobility and restricted sight in the United Kingdom, Germany and the Netherlands. All of my interviewees helped me greatly in the process of making sense and reaching understanding through our dialogues. The findings have important implications for the tourism industry to minimise exclusion and to increase possibilities of individual empowerment and agency for disabled people.
However, the research journey does not end here. Instead, it provides a starting point for exciting future research encompassing resistance theories, the paradox of (in)dependence and the role of training and education for overcoming exclusion.
As (hopefully valuable) advice and encouragement to current PhD researchers: The time to feel ‘included’ will come!
Dr Victoria Eichhorn