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A Phenomenological Exploration of How People with Limited Mobilities Experience Adventure Tourism in Virtual Reality / LOUISA HARDWICK

Swansea University Author: LOUISA HARDWICK

DOI (Published version): 10.23889/SUthesis.66921

Abstract

The aim of this study is to better understand how people with limited mobilities experience adventure tourism using virtual reality (VR). Taking a phenomenological position, my research uses a methodology based in Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) to explore the nuances and complexities o...

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Published: Swansea, Wales, UK 2024
Institution: Swansea University
Degree level: Doctoral
Degree name: Ph.D
Supervisor: Miller, Maggie ; Williams, Helen ; Pritchard, Katrina
URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa66921
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Abstract: The aim of this study is to better understand how people with limited mobilities experience adventure tourism using virtual reality (VR). Taking a phenomenological position, my research uses a methodology based in Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) to explore the nuances and complexities of disabled experiences using a VR headset. Disabled experiences and disabled voice are consistently limited in tourism research, even when VR is theorised as an assistive tool to access tourism experiences. There are few in-depth studies from a disabled perspective. In response to this, I sought to apply a qualitative phenomenological approach to understand the lived experience of disabled people using VR to access adventure tourism. I use IPA as a guiding framework explore the lived experiences and perspectives of seven women and five men with limited mobilities across South Wales. My contributions to research tourism are threefold. Firstly, my findings demonstrate that participants wished to use VR as a tool for escapism. The wish to escape was influenced by participants’ disabilities and bodies and use of the VR to escape was dictated by the body’s relationship with the technology; thus, VR was deemed inaccessible by participants. Secondly, as a methodological contribution, I demonstrate the value of using IPA for accessing complex and nuanced lived experiences. Furthermore, I question how VR can be beneficial to disabled people, or how it is used in research and practice if it has been considered inaccessible. Thirdly, whilst drawing on relevant literature, I decentre the able body and challenge able-bodied assumptions in tourism research. I centralise disabled voices and the disabled bodies as a point of understanding and a way of perceiving through the body. In doing so, I contribute to an emerging literature addressing the marginalisation of disabled voices from research.
Keywords: virtual reality, adventure tourism, disability
College: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences