This thesis focuses on visualising some daily routines typical of disabled people. The main emphasis is on how disabled customers experience the commercial service processes characteristic of the hotels and restaurants compared to the public services provided by the Finnish welfare state. In other words, it has been essential to study human encounters through attitudinal measurements. This thesis is a combination of two studies, beginning with a pilot study of supply and demand within tourism for the disabled as a source of clues and hypothetical statements for a major attitude survey. The factual content of the latter survey is closely connected to a frame of reference made up of recreation, hospitality, and tourism, an appropriate context for the study of the dimensions and achievements of inclusion in the case of the disabled as consumers. One of the special characteristics of the research is the linkage to the framework of the Goffmanian theatre metaphor; that is, encounters and interaction are analysed within the frame of a stage, in this case, purposefully, the hotel and restaurant environment. A multi-method approach comprising both a quantitative and qualitative dimension is characteristic of this research. In the beginning of the research, the disabled dimension to be researched was unfamiliar to the author. Therefore it was necessary to include ethnographic characteristics.
It was absolutely necessary to base the background philosophy of the research on symbolic interactionism, the leading thought of which is that human behaviour, under different circumstances, is a creative result from both conscious and subconscious decision making.
It was also essential to understand that behavioural decisions are based on interpretations generated by social interaction - for example, the encounters between disabled customers and the surrounding environment. It is significant to symbolic interaction how the participants interpret situations, because it is interpretation that guides human action. In this research interpretations were measured by means of an attitudinal survey at the hotel restaurants - functional elements of the tourism industry. The author also had a strong motivation to thoroughly study encounters as phenomenal wholes rather than try to form hypotheses on them. In addition, he aimed at including meanings and functions of human behaviour from the points of view of the different actors in the analysis of the data collected. Besides the ethnographic aspect, this thesis also includes a clearly phenomenological characteristic, because the conceptions (here in the forms of statements) of participants belonging to different groups of people have been studied.
In the course of the research process, it was assumed that human conceptions, and attitudes in particular, differ, for example by sex, age or by the group one has been identified with. Phenomenologically the stages of this research only include one world of events and interactions differently interpreted by different people. It is important to note that this particular research focuses on how a welfare state provides for or manifests its services to those with disabilities. These research objectives are supported by the ideas of tourism as commercial enterprises always dealing with supply and demand, selling and buying. In this particular case the potential customers are people with disability, and hotel restaurants are the "theatres" and "stages", where all the encounters between hosts and guests take place.