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The transformative potential of WWOOFing: Getting your hands dirty might change your life
Linnaeus University, School of Business and Economics, Department of Organisation and Entrepreneurship.
2019 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The phenomenon of organic farm volunteer tourism through the organisation World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) has been growing substantially during the past decades. Current literature points out a number of opportunities of volunteer participants to foster cross-cultural understandings, the potential of consciousness-raising and increase in social awareness (McGehee & Santos, 2005) as well as a transformation “towards a more responsible form of travel” (Raymond & Hall, 2008, p. 541). While the phenomenon is relevant, there is limited understanding of the volunteers’ perception of the WWOOFing experience and the connected transformative implications on identity formation. This study uses the theory of symbolic interactionism and the model of transformative learning by Mezirow (1991) to shed light on how the volunteers perceive the possible transformative implications of this specific volunteer tourism niche. While analysing the collected data through a constructivist lens and with the help of narrative analysis, themes that indicate the forming, reshaping and challenging aspects of the volunteers’ identity were revealed. Furthermore, the procedural, contextual and relational aspects of identity were highlighted in the narratives. The findings demonstrate how volunteers consider organic volunteering and how they integrate this transformative learning experience and consciousness-raising into their mindset. Themes about the volunteers’ reasons to go WWOOF, perceived transformative implications and the importance of place and people play a crucial role in the volunteers’ narratives. The discussion shows that the procedural, relational and contextual notion of identity permeates the entire narrative of the volunteers. With the notion of identity and the focus on identity formation the importance of learning emerges. The correlation between the aspects of identity formation and how they relate to transformative learning aspects contribute to the existing discourse about transformative implications and identity formation through an organic farm volunteer experience. Understanding how the volunteers incorporate the transformative aspects of the WWOOF experience into their narratives is a first relevant step towards closing the gap between volunteer tourism aspirations and behavioural change.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019.
Keywords [en]
Volunteer tourism, WWOOF, organic farm volunteer, sustainability, narrative analysis, symbolic interactionism, identity work
National Category
Economics and Business
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-85896OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-85896DiVA, id: diva2:1330510
Subject / course
Tourism Studies
Educational program
Tourism and Sustainability, 120 credits
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2019-06-28 Created: 2019-06-25 Last updated: 2019-06-28Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf