Transforming whose lives? The portrayal of international sport for development volunteering by UK Higher Education Institutions

CLARKE, Joanne and NORMAN, V. (2021). Transforming whose lives? The portrayal of international sport for development volunteering by UK Higher Education Institutions. Sport, Education and Society.

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This article critically examines the portrayal of sport for development (SfD) international volunteering by UK Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). Volunteer tourism or ‘voluntourism’ is a popular experience in which individuals combine international travel with voluntary work in a destination typically in the Global South in a bid to offer support to those in need. A body of literature offers an optimistic view of volunteer tourism, suggesting that it can facilitate the development of cross-cultural understanding among volunteers and host communities. However, there is also critical literature which argues that if volunteer tourism programmes are not carefully developed and managed, they can lead to cross-cultural misunderstanding and reinforce negative cultural stereotypes; this latter critique provides both the justification and context for this article. Several studies have acknowledged the centrality of Global Northern volunteers to the delivery of sport-based programmes in the Global South under the banner of SfD [Darnell (2007). Playing with race: Right to play and the production of whiteness in ‘development through sport’. Sport in Society, 10(4), 560–579; Darnell (2011). Identity and learning in international volunteerism: ‘Sport for development and peace’ internships. Development in Practice, 21(7), 974–986; Lucas & Jeanes (2019). Ethnographic reflections of the role of global north volunteers in sport-for-development. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 55(7), 953–974]. However, given the pivotal role that UK HEIs play in marketing and facilitating such opportunities for students, there is a lack of research that critically examines how such volunteer opportunities are portrayed by HEIs. The article draws from a sample of thirteen UK HEIs to examine how they discursively frame SfD international volunteer opportunities. The findings illustrate how student volunteers benefit and even socially transform because of volunteering in poor Global South communities. The article concludes by outlining a series of recommendations for UK HEIs to consider regarding their portrayal of international SfD volunteering.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This article was retrospectively made gold open access (June 2021).
Uncontrolled Keywords: International; sport for development; neo-liberalism; volunteer tourism; networking; social capital; 1301 Education Systems; 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy; 1303 Specialist Studies in Education; Sport Sciences
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SWORD Depositor: Symplectic Elements
Depositing User: Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited: 06 May 2021 10:37
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 13:30

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