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Expectations, Compassion and Confusion: Volunteers’ experiences and perspectives
Södertörn University, School of Natural Sciences, Technology and Environmental Studies.
2015 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The roots of international voluntary work can be said to stem back to the 19:th century missionary work. It is thus nothing new with westerners wanting to spread their knowledge or help the poor in other countries. However, relatively recently the international voluntary work or, as termed in this thesis, volunteer tourism have become more like an industry. Both the older phenomenon of non-profit organizers of volunteer travels and the newer, nowadays more visible, alternative of commercial companies are to choose from. Within this relatively new landscape of volunteer travels, this study seeks to understand the volunteers’ and the volunteer experience through a comparison of non-profit and profit organizers of volunteer travels. To do this, open-ended interviews were conducted with 14 former volunteers who had travelled with various organizers. The interviews took place in Stockholm, March-April 2015. The theoretical framework is based on critical theories, social movement theory and theories about (volunteer) tourism. The study showed that the experiences of and motivations for volunteering were quite similar between the groups. However, the volunteers’ who had travelled with non-profit organizers were in retrospect less focused on the aim of “helping” and they had to a larger extend revalued the aim and concept of volunteering. The most common least satisfactory part of the travel was the working situation. For all, the in general most valuable outcome of the travel was a cultural insight (exchange) rather than making a difference or helping, which is the common image marketed by many volunteer travel organizers.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. , 35 p.
Keyword [en]
Volunteer tourism, volunteer travel organizers, neo-liberalism, post-colonialism, social movement theory
Keyword [sv]
Volontär-turism, volontärrese-organisatörer, neoliberalism, postkolonialism, social movement theory
National Category
Social Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-27934OAI: diva2:841278
Subject / course
Development and International Cooperation
Social and Behavioural Science, Law
Available from: 2015-07-13 Created: 2015-07-12 Last updated: 2015-07-13Bibliographically approved

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