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Working towards sincere encounters in volunteer tourism: an ethnographic examination of key management issues at a Nordic eco-village
Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Tourism Studies and Geography.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0471-3748
2017 (English)In: Journal of Sustainable Tourism, ISSN 0966-9582, E-ISSN 1747-7646, Vol. 25, no 11, 1617-1632 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article explores host–guest dynamics at Sólheimar eco-village, Iceland tocontribute to the conceptualization of transformative learning in volunteertourism. At the eco-village, the host and volunteers come together to sharesimilar goals and meaningful experiences. This interaction gets complicated,however: the eco-village exists within the global capitalist system and mustoperate using market norms. The idealist and educational expectations ofthe volunteers often clash with the practical short-term goals of thecommunity: there are also cultural and experiential differences between theparties. This clash is used to discuss the importance of sincerity in volunteertourism at the eco-village. Data were collected through fieldwork, primarilyincluding participant observations and interviews, to help interpret thepatterns of behaviors and perceptions of both parties in relation to the aim.Ultimately, the experience that binds host and guests cannot solely beabout learning to do things alternatively and sustainably; it requiressincerity, using Taylor’s 2001 sincerity concept, to tackle the difficulties inworking alternatively and sustainably to attain this experience. It is arguedthat transformative learning during the volunteer experience in alternativespaces should be conceptualized to include the promotion of sincereencounters, and adjusted to concern both the host and its guests.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 25, no 11, 1617-1632 p.
Keyword [en]
volunteer tourism, eco-village, Iceland, transformative learning, focused ethnography
National Category
Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified Human Geography
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-30450DOI: 10.1080/09669582.2017.1297450OAI: oai:DiVA.org:miun-30450DiVA: diva2:1080957
Available from: 2017-03-13 Created: 2017-03-13 Last updated: 2017-11-29Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Imagining Tourist Spaces as Living Spaces: Towards a Relational Approach to Alternatives and Morals in Tourism
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Imagining Tourist Spaces as Living Spaces: Towards a Relational Approach to Alternatives and Morals in Tourism
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Many actors are taking advantage of the flexible barriers to entry of the tourist industry to engage in the production of varied forms of tourism closely related to their lifestyle, professional and communal ambitions. With the increased popularity of forms of tourism bringing the guest close to the host, it becomes relevant to ask questions related to lived experiences and close encounters in tourism scholarship. This is a moral conviction that the plurality of human experiences and critical reflexivity matter in the conception of tourist spaces and their management. In this thesis, I look for new ways to conceptually embed local people in their living spaces by approaching forms of tourism displaying non-economic elements as phenomena that create new and complex relations imbued with various implications. Tourism geography highlights the negotiated and fragmented nature of tourism, and its performative and embodied character. I apply relational geography to apprehend the multiple relations that make up local spaces and identities. With its post-structural character, relational geography uncovers voices once neglected in research, and proposes new ways of being in the world. My two qualitative case studies reflect my interest in exploring the northern European context. Firstly, I investigate craft-artists on Bornholm, Denmark and their relation to the tourist season. I do this through interviews and narrative analysis. My second case study, a focused ethnography at Sólheimar eco-village, Iceland, centres on the management of host and guest interactions.  In terms of spatial formation, results show that local actors have the agency to form networks and redefine their identities in the wake of tourism development. They form a hybrid space by fulfilling goals related to their lifestyle, livelihood and professional ambitions simultaneously. Moreover, mundane practices are presented as an integral part of a tourist landscape. In terms of management, results show that the various spatial complexities faced by communities exacerbate host and guest relations. This will require a commitment from local coordinators and managers to promote a reflexive and critical exchange during these close encounters. I ultimately argue for the imagination of tourist spaces as living spaces, where I conceptualize tourism as a mundane, yet complex, material and social experience for those living in tourist spaces. I propose two new discursive anchors that reflect the metaphor of the living space: dwelling in the tourist landscape, and sincere encounters. I contend that researching living spaces finds its moral grounds in its openness to the various ways local people dwell and encounter during tourism, and to the diverse ways researchers make sense of these practices, and of their own.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sundsvall: Mid Sweden University, 2017. 108 p.
Series
Mid Sweden University doctoral thesis, ISSN 1652-893X ; 268
Keyword
Rural tourism, Volunteer tourism, ethnography, narratives, Bornholm, Sólheimar eco-village
National Category
Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-31403 (URN)978-91-88527-24-0 (ISBN)
Public defence
2017-09-29, F229, Östersund, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2017-08-18 Created: 2017-08-15 Last updated: 2017-08-28Bibliographically approved

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