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Volontärerna: Internationellt hjälparbete från missionsorganisationer till volontärresebyråer
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Health, Social Work and Behavioural Sciences, School of Social Work.
2012 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
The volunteers : From Missionary Organizations to Volunteer Travel Agencies (English)
Abstract [en]

A new form of foreign travel called “voluntourism” has emerged in Sweden. In advertisements that invite to “make a difference”, travel agencies promote short- term aid opportunities at for example orphanages or schools in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. International volunteer work is nothing new. Rather, the volunteer agencies have entered an old and established organizational field. Using theories of new institutionalism and the analytical phrase “the story about”, this thesis investigates the way international aid work originated and evolved, and how commercial volunteer agencies entered the field. The thesis is partly based on historical data from organizational reports, biographies of aid work icons, and interviews with volunteers active during the 1960s and 1970s. Additionally, it makes use of contemporary data from interviews with representatives from volunteer travel agencies and volunteers. It also includes an analysis of how the travel agencies present their business operations on their websites.

The thesis concludes that travel agencies apply the common perception of international aid work’s characteristics when marketing volunteer travels. This common perception can be traced through the evolution of international aid work. Travel agencies attract volunteers by offering access to this exclusive field. The volunteers are well-educated young women from middle class families. They are looking for experiences from international aid work, perspective on their own lives, and first-hand knowledge of local and traditional societies in poor countries. Nevertheless, due to the esteem in which the organizational field is viewed, a brief period spent as an aid worker is considered a desirable qualification for a job applicant. I interpret volunteer travel as a “grand tour”.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Växjö, Kalmar: Linnaeus University Press, 2012. , 240 p.
Linnaeus University Dissertations, 82/2012
Keyword [en]
volontourism, international aid work, volunteers, organizational field, the grand tour
Keyword [sv]
volontärresor, volontärer, volontärresebyråer, hjälparbete, internationellt hjälparbete, missionärer, NGO:s, hjälporganisationer, ideella organisationer, organisatoriska fält, bildningsresa
National Category
Social Work
Research subject
Social Sciences, Social Work
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-18231Libris ID: 12752141ISBN: 978-91-86983-44-4 (print)OAI: diva2:514143
Public defence
2012-04-27, Myrdal, Hus K, Växjö, 10:15 (Swedish)
Available from: 2012-04-10 Created: 2012-04-05 Last updated: 2017-02-15Bibliographically approved

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