This paper aims to contribute to the ongoing academic debate on volunteer tourism by reviewing the volunteer tourists’ experience in light of their encounter with poverty and sufferance. Through the analysis of data collected from semi-structured in-depth interviews with a group of 29 young Italian adults, the author examines the different ways in which volunteer tourists construct and negotiate their role as agents of change during their vacations abroad. Results show that the expectations of providing effective help to the local communities is often challenged by the limitations and constraints of the volunteer tourism experience and, as a consequence, volunteer tourists need to find new ways of making sense of their experiences abroad. Looking at the work of French sociologist [Boltanski, L. (1999). Distant suffering. Morality, media and politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press] on the ways in which spectators respond to the distant suffering of others, this paper argues that, in order to avoid an oversimplification and a trivialisation of the volunteer tourism experience, the volunteers’ participation needs to be addressed primarily as a matter of spectatorship, rather than as a question of agency.

Facing the pain of others: perspectives on international volunteer tourism between agency and spectatorship

GIUS, CHIARA
2017

Abstract

This paper aims to contribute to the ongoing academic debate on volunteer tourism by reviewing the volunteer tourists’ experience in light of their encounter with poverty and sufferance. Through the analysis of data collected from semi-structured in-depth interviews with a group of 29 young Italian adults, the author examines the different ways in which volunteer tourists construct and negotiate their role as agents of change during their vacations abroad. Results show that the expectations of providing effective help to the local communities is often challenged by the limitations and constraints of the volunteer tourism experience and, as a consequence, volunteer tourists need to find new ways of making sense of their experiences abroad. Looking at the work of French sociologist [Boltanski, L. (1999). Distant suffering. Morality, media and politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press] on the ways in which spectators respond to the distant suffering of others, this paper argues that, in order to avoid an oversimplification and a trivialisation of the volunteer tourism experience, the volunteers’ participation needs to be addressed primarily as a matter of spectatorship, rather than as a question of agency.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11585/597453
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