An Opinion Piece. A response to the Special Issue on volunteer tourism: the performative absence of volunteers

Mark Griffiths

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This short Opinion Piece reflects on the construction of volunteers in the Journal of Sustainable Tourism's recent Special Issue on Volunteer Tourism, Volume 22, Issue 6, 2014. The Issue indicates directions for future research and presents some productive cases of applied modes of knowledge production. This Opinion Piece notes that, despite the good work in the Special Issue, more research on the impacts of volunteer tourism on host communities is still overdue. But most importantly, however, running through the papers in the Issue, there is a problematic construction of volunteers as passive subjects of capitalism. As “consumers” or “clients”, it is argued that the Special Issue papers perceive volunteers through the very same logic of commodification that much of the research intends to push against. Drawing attention to the performativity of language and research outputs, the case is made for more careful attention to the ways researchers in volunteer tourism address subjects so that critical attention might be better aligned with our practices of representation. We should seek to preserve the potential of volunteers to bring about change, and resist the temptation to reproduce the very deleterious discursive realities we seek to bring to account: volunteers, before all else, volunteer.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-176
JournalJournal of Sustainable Tourism
Volume24
Issue number2
Early online date3 Feb 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016

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