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Volunteer tourism fields: spaces of altruism and unsustainability

Thompson, Jamie



Drawing upon research from six volunteer projects in Cambodia, this paper explores the volunteer host community as a ‘space’ that has its own rules and normalized ways of behaving that influences the assistance prospective beneficiaries receive. Underpinned by Bourdieu’s theory of field’s, qualitative interviews and participant observation is conducted with both volunteers and hosts. This paper concludes that volunteer project rules are not homogeneous and that normalized ways of behaving can lead to unregulated and unsustainable practice but also integrated and productive outcomes. This suggests a more regulative and structured approach to volunteer tourism led by media and volunteers themselves may enhance the sustainable foundation of the sector.


Thompson, J. (2022). Volunteer tourism fields: spaces of altruism and unsustainability. Current Issues in Tourism, 25(5), 779-791.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 3, 2021
Online Publication Date Feb 18, 2021
Publication Date 2022
Deposit Date Feb 23, 2021
Publicly Available Date Feb 23, 2021
Journal Current Issues in Tourism
Print ISSN 1368-3500
Electronic ISSN 1747-7603
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 25
Issue 5
Pages 779-791
Keywords Volunteer tourism, Bourdieu, Fields, Cambodia, Host communities
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Volunteer Tourism Fields: Spaces Of Altruism And Unsustainability (published version) (1.4 Mb)

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Copyright Statement
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.

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