Title

Framing voluntourism and realizing ubuntourism: Collective action toward global understanding and social justice

Start Time

6-10-2012 9:40 AM

End Time

6-10-2012 10:10 AM

Session Type

Event

Abstract

In the 2010 Society for the Study of Occupation Ruth Zemke Lecture, the following question was posed: “What if occupational science were understood not primarily or only as a science, but also an expression of moral philosophy in the pragmatist tradition?” (Frank, 2011, p. 9). How has the science responded to this invitation? Could the pragmatist approach which involves taking action in our lives for ourselves and others, be realized in mainstream industries such as tourism? How might this contribute to the larger discourse of globalization, social justice and the pursuit of ‘doing good’ in the world? Drawing on this pragmatist foundation, this paper will explore two potentially ameliorative representations of alternative tourism – transnational volunteer tourism (voluntourism) and the emerging ubuntourism approach in South Africa. Tourism historically has been predicated on the ‘hegemonic tourist discourse’ whereby those of the dominant social class travel to less civilized worlds. Voluntourism emerged as an alternative tourism realm as a direct response to such discourse; tourists who intentionally seek opportunities to make meaningful contributions to the sociocultural worlds they visit. Ubuntourism, founded on the humanness vision of ubuntu and shared occupational engagement, will be introduced as an emerging tourism approach and counterpoint to traditional voluntourism. Through a framing lens of occupation, issues pertaining to development, globalization and the collective response by tourism to the growing interest in social justice will be explored. This theoretical paper contributes to the necessary critical analysis of volunteer tourism practices to determine whether the global movement of people through alternate tourism creates a beneficial connection between people. There is a preponderance of tourism literature on the resulting experience for the volunteer and a growing body of literature pertaining to impact on the host community, though seemingly no analytic import placed on what is actually ‘done.’ It is the transactional occupational nature of alternate tourism forms between social actors, global context, and engaged ‘doing good’ which is highlighted here. Additionally, this paper being grounded in the pragmatist tradition of moral philosophy seeks to extend the occupational science dialogue and inquiry further. It is not enough to claim that voluntourism or ubuntourism creates change – how and why did change happen, and now that change has occurred, what is next?

Discussion Questions:

  1. Moral philosophy is of growing interest in medical and psychological anthropological fields. How is the pragmatist tradition of moral philosophy currently understood and represented in occupational science scholarship?
  2. The occupations, identity formation and meaningful experience associated with volunteer pursuits and with tourism have been investigated separately in occupational science. What is the mutually constituting nature of these domains within the larger occupational or social justice framing?
  3. Ubuntourism emerged from the ‘Occupational Therapists without Borders’ vision. How can occupational science contribute to furthering this vision?

References

Butcher, J. (2003). The moralisation of tourism. Sun, sand … and saving the world? London, UK: Routledge.

Frank, G. (2011). Occupational therapy/Occupational science/Occupational justice: Moral commitments and global assemblages. Journal of Occupational Science, 19(1), 1-11. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14427591.2011.562929

Frank, G. & Zemke, R. (2009). Occupational therapy foundations for political engagements and social transformation. In N. Pollard, D. Sakellariou and F. Kronenberg (Eds.), A political practice of occupational therapy. (pp. 111-136). Edinburgh, UK: Elsevier/Churchill Livingston.

Kronenberg, F. & Ramugondo, E. (2010). In F. Kronenberg, N. Pollard, & D. Sakellariou (Eds.), Occupational therapists without borders: Towards an ecology of occupation-based practices. (pp. 195-207). Edinburgh, UK: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier.

Wearing, S. (2001). Volunteer tourism: Experiences that make a differences. Wallingford, AU: CABI International. http://dx.doi.org/10.1079/9780851995335.0000

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Theoretical paper

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Oct 6th, 9:40 AM Oct 6th, 10:10 AM

Framing voluntourism and realizing ubuntourism: Collective action toward global understanding and social justice

In the 2010 Society for the Study of Occupation Ruth Zemke Lecture, the following question was posed: “What if occupational science were understood not primarily or only as a science, but also an expression of moral philosophy in the pragmatist tradition?” (Frank, 2011, p. 9). How has the science responded to this invitation? Could the pragmatist approach which involves taking action in our lives for ourselves and others, be realized in mainstream industries such as tourism? How might this contribute to the larger discourse of globalization, social justice and the pursuit of ‘doing good’ in the world? Drawing on this pragmatist foundation, this paper will explore two potentially ameliorative representations of alternative tourism – transnational volunteer tourism (voluntourism) and the emerging ubuntourism approach in South Africa. Tourism historically has been predicated on the ‘hegemonic tourist discourse’ whereby those of the dominant social class travel to less civilized worlds. Voluntourism emerged as an alternative tourism realm as a direct response to such discourse; tourists who intentionally seek opportunities to make meaningful contributions to the sociocultural worlds they visit. Ubuntourism, founded on the humanness vision of ubuntu and shared occupational engagement, will be introduced as an emerging tourism approach and counterpoint to traditional voluntourism. Through a framing lens of occupation, issues pertaining to development, globalization and the collective response by tourism to the growing interest in social justice will be explored. This theoretical paper contributes to the necessary critical analysis of volunteer tourism practices to determine whether the global movement of people through alternate tourism creates a beneficial connection between people. There is a preponderance of tourism literature on the resulting experience for the volunteer and a growing body of literature pertaining to impact on the host community, though seemingly no analytic import placed on what is actually ‘done.’ It is the transactional occupational nature of alternate tourism forms between social actors, global context, and engaged ‘doing good’ which is highlighted here. Additionally, this paper being grounded in the pragmatist tradition of moral philosophy seeks to extend the occupational science dialogue and inquiry further. It is not enough to claim that voluntourism or ubuntourism creates change – how and why did change happen, and now that change has occurred, what is next?

Discussion Questions:

  1. Moral philosophy is of growing interest in medical and psychological anthropological fields. How is the pragmatist tradition of moral philosophy currently understood and represented in occupational science scholarship?
  2. The occupations, identity formation and meaningful experience associated with volunteer pursuits and with tourism have been investigated separately in occupational science. What is the mutually constituting nature of these domains within the larger occupational or social justice framing?
  3. Ubuntourism emerged from the ‘Occupational Therapists without Borders’ vision. How can occupational science contribute to furthering this vision?