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Poverty Tourism and the Problem of Consent


Kyle Whyte



Evan Selinger


Rochester Institute of Technology - Department of Philosophy

Kevin Outterson


Boston University School of Law

December 30, 2010

Journal of Global Ethics, Vol. 7, No. 3, pp. 337-348
Boston Univ. School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 11-22

Abstract:     
Is it morally permissible for financially privileged tourists to visit places for the purpose of experiencing where poor people live, work, and play? Tourism associated with this question is commonly referred to as 'poverty tourism.' While some poverty tourism is plausibly ethical, other practices will be more controversial. The purpose of this essay is to address mutually beneficial cases of poverty tourism and advance the following positions. First, even mutually beneficial transactions between tourists and residents in poverty tourism always run a risk of being exploitative. Second, there is little opportunity to determine whether a given tour is exploitative since tourists lack good access to the residents' perspectives. Third, if a case of poverty tourism is exploitative, it is so in an indulgent way; tourists are not compelled to exploit the residents. In light of these considerations, we conclude that would-be tourists should participate in poverty tours only if there is a well-established collaborative and consensual process in place.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 13

Keywords: Poverty tourism, poorism, exploitation, tourism ethics, fair trade

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Date posted: January 1, 2011 ; Last revised: September 1, 2014

Suggested Citation

Whyte, Kyle and Selinger, Evan and Outterson, Kevin, Poverty Tourism and the Problem of Consent (December 30, 2010). Journal of Global Ethics, Vol. 7, No. 3, pp. 337-348; Boston Univ. School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 11-22. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1732710

Contact Information

Evan Selinger
Rochester Institute of Technology - Department of Philosophy ( email )
92 Lomb Memorial Drive
Rochester, NY 14623-5670
United States
(585) 475-2531 (Phone)
Kevin Outterson
Boston University School of Law ( email )
765 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States
No contact information is available for Kyle Whyte
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