Voluntourism Discourse: A Case Study of ME to WE

Title: Voluntourism Discourse: A Case Study of ME to WE
Authors: Buchmayer, Kelsey
Date: 2017
Abstract: Youth’s perceptions of international development and its related themes are being shaped through the messages relayed in the marketing of volunteer sending organizations. This research explores how one voluntourism sending organization, ME to WE, packages and portrays themes of international development and contributes to Heron’s “helping imperative” (2007), which is a desire to go abroad and make change by asserting one’s own values of development. It uses qualitative content analysis from ME to WE’s online youth trip pages and explores how the organization uses a discourse that focuses on the notion of “doing” development, selling adventure, the allure of the proximity to poverty, and leadership and social justice training. The research situates the findings in the scholarly debates on international volunteering and voluntourism and draws heavily on postcolonial analysis. It examines how ME to WE uses a rhetoric that promotes sustainable development, partnerships, building leaders, and global citizenship, however upon deeper analysis this promotion is superficial in that the themes in the discourse point to a lack of critical reflexivity in meaningful, thick conceptions of global citizenship education, an overwhelming support for egoistic motivations over altruism in youth going abroad, a consumer-first, consumption-based mentality, and a reinforcing of unequal power structures between the Global North and Global South, reverting back towards charity as opposed to solidarity.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/35916
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -