Idealistic and Self-realizing Adventures: An explorative study fo young Norwegians engagin in volunteering abroad
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This thesis portrays an understanding of the globally emerging phenomenon, voluntourism, characterized as a hybrid of volunteering and tourism, where people pay a substantial fee to do volunteer work abroad. How voluntourism is legitimized amongst young Norwegians is explored with a qualitative study, composed of in-depth interviews with twelve young Norwegians that have volunteered with the Norwegian voluntourism agencies, Discover and Vision. The informants reasons to engage in voluntourism, on what criteria they have had for selected voluntourism agency, and their experience with the voluntourist role, are used to portray an understanding of their perceptions of the phenomenon. Three differing rationales are emphasised by the voluntourists, namely an idealistic, self-realization and adventures, that combined gives the notion of a voluntourism rationale. In addition the commodification of the volunteer spheres, has made voluntourism a service available for the consumer. This implies that market logic also have an impact on the voluntourists choices. Several reasons are nevertheless argued to be contradictory, because while idealistic notions of wanting to volunteer for unselfish reasons are evident, there also exists adventures and self-realization rationales, which are connected to more selfish reasoning’s within voluntourism. Action and rationality theory, connected to Weber’s individual action typologies as well as Elster’s notion of rationality, were the best perceived action is a cluster of mechanisms determining social and emotional phenomena, will be presented as a theoretical background. In addition Habermas’ concept of communicative rationality, indicating that the voluntourism sphere consists of and is affected by contrasting systems, will contribute to an understanding of how, and if, the act becomes rational for the voluntourist. The rationales are doubtlessly affected by the individual’s pursuit as consumers, with the ability to pursue their own destiny and to construct their own identity, and might be affected by the lust and desire to attain self-realization and adventure through consumption of voluntourism. Also existing values and norms seem to have an affect on why they want to engage in volunteering. Further there exits an inconsistency between the expectations the voluntourists have and the actual expressed experiences, indicating that the voluntourist do not truly understand what they have engaged in. This appear to be due to the market infiltrating the volunteer-sphere, with profound contrasting values, making it difficult for the voluntourist to indentify their “real” reasoning’s.