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Title: Voluntourism and the neoliberal market : an investigation into the use of voluntourists as a development tool and as the primary care-givers of vulnerable children in Mexican communities
Author: Hannant, Stefanie Victoria
ISNI:       0000 0004 5368 4688
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2015
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The volunteer tourism sector has undergone a rapid commercialisation through its induction into the neoliberal market, with sending organisations advertising volunteering placements with defined sets of marketable commodities in an attempt to capture their market share. These include individualised educational experiences, the opportunity to ‘do’ development through working with vulnerable children, and a vacation that combines elements of adventure and exoticism, altruism and hedonism. Mexico is the archetypal volunteer destination, and its Jalisco district provides the contextual setting for this research. Framed by literature on neoliberalism, development and care, this thesis set out to explore how voluntourists are negotiating their position as caregivers in the context of marketised voluntourism and care within the neoliberal landscape of voluntourism in Mexico. Over nine months of field work, participant observations and interviews were conducted with various local residents, volunteers and the staff members of three different orphanages and organisations. Each organisation was chosen for their diverse positioning within the shallow commercial voluntourism sector. Findings demonstrate that organisational management and operations have been affected by the increasing neoliberalisation of voluntourism, thus creating a precarious balance between commerce and philanthropic virtue. The commercial approach adopted by the organisations has depoliticised and simplified the framing of development, creating a shallow and superficial engagement with the issues surrounding poverty. This neoliberal and depoliticised approach has also highlighted the colonial underpinnings of the sector, which affects the perceptions, relationships and power dynamics between agents. It is hoped that this analysis presents a more holistic picture of voluntourism, providing some much needed empirical evidence of the influence intense commercial and social pressures are having on the imaginaries of voluntourism produced by the organisations, and in turn how this shapes the voluntourists’ negotiation of their subjectivities and subsequently, how this is affecting the care environment provided to vulnerable children.
Supervisor: Maclean, Kate ; Potts, Deborah Helen Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available