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Working towards sincere encounters in volunteer tourism : an ethnographic examination of key management issues at a Nordic eco-village

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Author list: Prince, Solene

Publication year: 2017

ISSN: 0966-9582

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09669582.2017.1297450


Abstract

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.


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