Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton September 2, 2015

Shaping subjects of globalisation: at the intersection of voluntourism and the new economy

  • Kati Dlaske EMAIL logo
From the journal Multilingua


Volunteer tourism is one of the latest branches of the ever expanding globalised tourism. The initiative Workaway, an expression of this trend, was established in the late 90s with the aim of promoting “cultural understanding between different peoples and lands throughout the world”. The figure of the workawayer as a new cosmopolitan subjectivity started to take shape. With the growth of the tourism industry, the Workaway scheme has started to be of interest also to tourism entrepreneurs, especially in the global peripheries such as northern Lapland, home to the indigenous minority language community of the Sámi. By signing up as a volunteer in a heritage tourism resort, the workawayer, the cultural adventurer, becomes linked up to the network of the globalised new economy. Drawing on aspects of governmentality studies, discourse studies and ethnographic approaches, this study traces the translocal formation of the figure of the workawayer through two crucial technologies of subjectification: the Internet portal and the actuality of everyday work in a Sámi heritage tourist resort in northernmost Finnish Lapland. Although the Workaway initiative positions itself as non-capitalist if not anti-capitalist, the study shows how the workawayer is gradually shaped to meet the requirements of the contemporary neoliberal world of work. If Workaway offers new languages and cultures with a flavour of romanticised multiculturalism, in the tourist resort actual encounters are governed by straightforward market rationality. Here, languages are valued as skills among others, but not above others, since ultimately “you don’t necessarily need any language for money transactions”.


Angouri, Jo & Marlene Miglbauer. 2014. ‘And then we summarise in English for the others’: The lived experience of the multilingual workplace. Multilingua 33(1–2). 147–172.10.1515/multi-2014-0007Search in Google Scholar

Appadurai, Arjun. 1996. Modernity at large: Cultural dimensions of globalization. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota press.Search in Google Scholar

Baines, Donna. 2004. Caring for nothing work organization and unwaged labour in social services. Work, Employment & Society 18(2). 267–295.10.1177/09500172004042770Search in Google Scholar

Barakos, Elisabeth. 2015. Language policy and governmentality in businesses in Wales: a continuum of empowerment and regulation. Multilingua, DOI 10.1515/multi-2015-000710.1515/multi-2015-0007Search in Google Scholar

Blommaert, Jan. 2005. Discourse. A critical introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.10.1017/CBO9780511610295Search in Google Scholar

Bröckling, Ulrich. 2005. Gendering the enterprising self. Subjectification programs andgender differences in guides to success. Distinktion (11). 7–23.10.1080/1600910X.2005.9672910Search in Google Scholar

Bröckling, Ulrich. 2007. Das unternehmerische Selbst. Soziologie einer Subjektivierungsform. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.Search in Google Scholar

Bröckling, Ulrich, Susanne Krasmann & Thomas Lemke (eds.). 2000. Gouvernementalität der Gegenwart. Studien zur Ökonomisierung des Sozialen. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.Search in Google Scholar

Brown, Sally. 2005. Travelling with a purpose: Understanding the motives and benefits of volunteer vacationers. Current Issues in Tourism 8(6). 479–496.10.1080/13683500508668232Search in Google Scholar

Brown, Sally & Alastair M. Morrison. 2003 Expanding volunteer vacation participation. An exploratory study on the mini-mission concept. Tourism Recreation Research 28(3). 73–82.10.1080/02508281.2003.11081419Search in Google Scholar

Clarke, Nick. 2004a. Free independent travelers? British working holiday makers in Australia. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 29(4). 499–509.10.1111/j.00202754.2004.00144.xSearch in Google Scholar

Clarke, Nick. 2004b. Mobility, fixity, agency: Australia’s holiday working plan. Population, Space and Place 10. 411–420.10.1002/psp.347Search in Google Scholar

Coghlan, Alexandra. 2006. Volunteer tourism as an emerging trend or an expansion of ecotourism? A look a potential clients’ perceptions of volunteer tourism organizations. International Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing 11(3). 225–237.10.1002/nvsm.35Search in Google Scholar

Coupland, Nikolas. 2010. Introduction: Sociolinguistics in the global era. In Nikolas Coupland (ed.), The Handbook of language and globalization, 1–27. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.10.1002/9781444324068Search in Google Scholar

Dean, Mitchel. 2010. Governmentality. Power and rule in modern society. Los Angeles & London: Sage.Search in Google Scholar

Dlaske, Kati. 2014. Semiotics of pride and profit. Interrogating commodification in indigenous handicraft production. Social Semiotics 24(5). 582–598.10.1080/10350330.2014.943459Search in Google Scholar

Dlaske, Kati. 2015. Discourse matters. Localness as a source of authenticity in craft businesses in peripheral minority language sites. Critical Approaches to Discourse Analysis across Disciplines 7(2). 243–262. Published ahead of issue at: in Google Scholar

Dlaske, Kati, Elisabeth Barakos, Kyoko Motobayashi & Mireille McLaughlin. 2015. Introduction to the special issue “Languaging the worker: Globalized governmentalities in/of language in peripheral spaces”. Multilingua10.1515/multi-2015-0009Search in Google Scholar

Duncan, Tara. 2008. The internationalisation of tourism labour markets: Working and playing in a ski resort. In Tim Coles & C. Michael Hall (eds.), International business and tourism: Global issues, contemporary interactions, 181–194. Oxon: Routledge.10.4324/9780203931035.ch10Search in Google Scholar

Foucault, Michel. 1981. The history of sexuality. Vol 1: An introduction. Penguin: Harmondsworth.Search in Google Scholar

Foucault, Michel. 1982. The subject and power. In Hubert L. Dreyfus & Paul Rabinow (eds.), Michel Foucault. Beyond structuralism and hermeneutics, 208–226. Brighton: Harvester Press.Search in Google Scholar

Harvey, David. 2009. Cosmopolitanism and the geographies of freedom. New York: Columbia University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Haverig, Anika & Steven Roberts. 2011. The New Zealand OE as governance through freedom: rethinking ‘the apex of freedom’. Journal of Youth Studies 14(5). 587–603.10.1080/13676261.2011.565042Search in Google Scholar

Heller, Monica. 2011. Paths to postnationalism: A critical ethnography of language and identity. New York: Oxford university press.10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199746866.001.0001Search in Google Scholar

Heller, Monica & Alexandre Duchêne. 2012. Changing discourses of language, capital and nation-state. In Monica Heller & Alexandre Duchêne (eds.), Language in late capitalism. Pride and profit, 1–21. New York: Routledge.10.4324/9780203155868Search in Google Scholar

Heller, Monica, Joan Pujolar & Alexandre Duchêne 2014. Linguistic commodification in tourism. Journal of Sociolinguistics 18(4). 539–566.10.1111/josl.12082Search in Google Scholar

Inoue, Miyako. 2007. Language and gender in the age of neoliberalism. Gender & Language. 1(1). 78–91.10.1558/genl.2007.1.1.79Search in Google Scholar

Jarvis, Jeff & Victoria Peel. 2013. Tourists for hire: International working holidaymakers in a work based destination in regional Australia. Tourism Management 37. 114–124.10.1016/j.tourman.2012.10.014Search in Google Scholar

Kauppinen, Kati. 2012. Subjects of Aspiration. Untersuchung von diskursiven Prozessen neoliberaler Regierung in einer postfeministischen Frauenzeitschrift. Finnische Beiträge zur Germanistik 28. Doctoral thesis. Frankfurt a. M.: Peter Lang.10.3726/978-3-653-01134-0Search in Google Scholar

Kauppinen, Kati. 2013. ‘Full power despite stress’: A discourse analytical examination of the interconnectedness of postfeminism and neoliberalism in the domain of work in an international women’s magazine. Discourse & Communication 7(2). 133–15110.1177/1750481313476596Search in Google Scholar

Kauppinen, Kati. 2014. Welcome to the end of the world! Resignifying periphery under the new economy: A nexus analytical view of a tourist website. Journal of multicultural discourses 9(1). 1–19.10.1080/17447143.2013.831422Search in Google Scholar

Lorente, Beatriz. 2012. The making of “Workers of the World”: Language and the labor brokerage state. In Monica Heller & Alexandre Duchêne (eds.), Language in late capitalism. Pride and profit, 183–206. New York: Routledge.Search in Google Scholar

Maes, Kenneth. 2012. Volunteerism or labor exploitation? Harnessing the volunteer spirit to sustain AIDS treatment programs in urban Ethiopia. Human Organization 71(1). 54–64.10.17730/humo.71.1.axm39467485m22w4Search in Google Scholar

Motobayashi, Kyoko. 2015. Language teacher subjectivities in Japan’s diaspora strategies: Teaching “my own language” as “someone’s heritage language”. Multilingua10.1515/multi-2015-0011Search in Google Scholar

O’Malley, Pat. 1996. Risk and responsibility. In Andrew Barry, Thomas Osborne & Nikolas Rose (eds.), Foucault and political reason. Liberalism, neo-liberalism and rationalities of government, 189–207, London: Routledge.Search in Google Scholar

Pennycook, Alastair. 2010. Language as local practice. New York: Routledge.10.4324/9780203846223Search in Google Scholar

Pietikäinen, Sari & Kati Dlaske. 2013. Cutting across media spaces and boundaries: The case of a hybrid indigeneous Sámi comedy. Sociolinguistica 27. 87–100.10.1515/soci.2013.27.1.87Search in Google Scholar

Pujolar, Joan & Kathryn Jones. 2012. “Literary tourism: New appropriations of landscape and territory in Catalonia.” In Monica Heller & Alexandre Duchêne (eds.), Language in late capitalism. Pride and profit, 93–115. New York: Routledge.Search in Google Scholar

Rose, Nikolas. 1996. Inventing ourselves. Psychology, power and personhood. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.10.1017/CBO9780511752179Search in Google Scholar

Rose, Nikolas. 1999. Governing the soul. The shaping of the private self. 2nd edn. London: Free Association Books.Search in Google Scholar

Ruhanen, Lisa. 2010.Working while travelling: Tourism development opportunities for agricultural regions. Tourism 58(2). 173–184.Search in Google Scholar

Scollon, Ron. 2005. Discourses of food in the world system. Toward a nexus analysis of a world problem. Journal of Language and Politics 4(3). 465–488.10.1075/jlp.4.3.07scoSearch in Google Scholar

Scollon Ron & Suzie Wong Scollon 2004. Nexus analysis. Discourse and the emerging internet. London: Routledge.10.4324/9780203694343Search in Google Scholar

Tomazos, K. & Butler, R. 2009. Volunteer tourism: The new ecotourism? Anatolia 20(1): 196–212.10.1080/13032917.2009.10518904Search in Google Scholar

Tomazos, Kostas &William Cooper. 2012. Volunteer tourism: At the crossroads of commercialisation and service? Current Issues in Tourism 15(5). 405–423.10.1080/13683500.2011.605112Search in Google Scholar

Torabian, Pooneh & Susan M. Arai. 2013. Tourist perceptions of souvenir authenticity: An exploration of selective tourist blogs. Current Issues in Tourism., 1–16. in Google Scholar

TRAM. 2008. Volunteer tourism: A global analysis. Barcelona: ATLAS.Search in Google Scholar

Urciuoli, Bonnie. 2008. Skills and selves in the new work place. American Ethnologist 35(2). 211–228.10.1111/j.1548-1425.2008.00031.xSearch in Google Scholar

Uriely, Natan. 2005. The tourist experience: Conceptual developments. Annals of Tourism Research 32(1). 199–216.10.1016/j.annals.2004.07.008Search in Google Scholar

Urry, John. 2007. Mobilities. Cambridge: Polity.Search in Google Scholar

Voswinkel, Stephan. 2004. Kundenorientierung. In Ulrich Bröckling, Susanne Krasmann & Thomas Lemke (eds.), Glossar der Gegenwart. Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp.Search in Google Scholar

Workaway Home. (accessed 15 September 2013).Search in Google Scholar

Workaway hostlist. (accessed 15 September 2013).Search in Google Scholar

Workaway information for hosts. (accessed 15 September 2013).Search in Google Scholar

Workaway Information for travellers. travellers.html (accessed 15 September 2013).Search in Google Scholar

Workaway Safety. (accessed 15 September 2013).Search in Google Scholar

Published Online: 2015-9-2
Published in Print: 2016-7-1

©2016 by De Gruyter Mouton

Downloaded on 29.9.2023 from
Scroll to top button