Stakeholders, high stakes and high tides: Quality of life in a small island festival context

Carina Ren, Janne J. Liburd

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


The aim of this chapter is to reflect on some of the implications in doing fieldwork in a small and relatively isolated island community. In 2009, a Danish island in the Wadden Sea National Park, only reachable by motor vehicles when the tide is out, was selected to host one of the many events taking place during the biannual Wadden Sea Festival. The aim of the project was to create vanishing art depicting the quality of life (QoL) on the island by use of materials found in the island's natural environment. Prior to the implementation of the event and as a part of the project, the authors were invited to qualitatively investigate the QoL among island residents, specifically focusing on subjective well-being. Through a description of stakeholder connections and conflicts, a number of lessons are discerned and pondered upon. In addition to applying the case to demonstrate and discuss how researchers can investigate QoL in tourism and how research(ers) impact small communities, we also reflect on the unforeseen consequences and entanglements of a seemingly (because of its size) 'straightforward' field of research. It is argued that field studies in very small communities more easily expose not only 'outside' interference, but also controversies and conflicts between neighbours, within families and between dwellers and professions of multiple sorts. Consequently we argue that researchers must continuously reflect on their own role in and relations to the places and communities - the 'cases' - which they investigate.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationField Guide to Case Study Research in Tourism, Hospitality and Leisure
Number of pages17
Publication date1. Dec 2012
ISBN (Print)9781780527420
Publication statusPublished - 1. Dec 2012
SeriesAdvances in Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research


  • Complexity
  • Quality of life
  • Reflexivity
  • Research ethics
  • Small communities


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