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The Ethics of Poverty Tourism

23 Pages Posted: 3 Jun 2009 Last revised: 15 Nov 2010

Kevin Outterson

Boston University School of Law

Evan Selinger

Rochester Institute of Technology - Department of Philosophy

Date Written: June 2, 2009

Abstract

Poverty tours - actual visits as well as literary and cinematic versions - are characterized as morally controversial trips and condemned in the press as voyeuristic endeavors. In this collaborative essay, we draw from personal experience, legal expertise, and phenomenological philosophy and introduce a conceptual taxonomy that clarifies the circumstances in which observing others has been construed as an immoral use of the gaze. We appeal to this taxonomy to determine which observational circumstances are relevant to the poverty tourism debate. While we do not defend all or even most poverty tourism practices, we do conclude that categorical condemnation of poverty tourism is unjustified.

Keywords: Poverty tours, ethical tourism, justice tourism, alternative globalization, development ethics

JEL Classification: I3, I31, J7, J79, K39, Z00

Suggested Citation

Outterson, Kevin and Selinger, Evan, The Ethics of Poverty Tourism (June 2, 2009). Boston Univ. School of Law Working Paper No. 09-29. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1413149 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1413149

Kevin Outterson (Contact Author)

Boston University School of Law ( email )

765 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States

Evan Selinger

Rochester Institute of Technology - Department of Philosophy ( email )

92 Lomb Memorial Drive
Rochester, NY 14623-5670
United States
(585) 475-2531 (Phone)

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