School of Sociology and Social Policy

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Esther Bott

Lecturer in Sociology, Faculty of Social Sciences


Research Summary

My current and future research interests lie in the cultural and social impacts of 'new' forms of tourism.I am currently interested in the following:

* The global dynamics of risk implicit in high-risk adventure tourism.

* The negotiation of newly emergent labour markets by locals as a result of tourism patterns.

* The gendered impacts of tourism development in the Global South

* The discursive reproduction of 'exotic' adventure sites.

Since earning a PhD in 2008 I have been building on my background in (north to south) migration research, which predominantly focused on global polarities and inequalities, identities and whiteness/Otherness. These themes inform my ongoing interest in tourism in the Global South, focusing specifically on niche tourism markets such as orphanage tourism, 'tribal' tourism and adventure tourism in remote regions. I have built considerable experience in qualitative methodologies, including ethnography and participatory action research. These have enabled close-up and detailed data collection, revealing the nuances and power dynamics implicit in the relationships between tourists and local people. This approach has produced original, much-needed empirical explorations of tourist interactions, impacts and negotiations of important new tourism markets and employment relations. I have carried out funded research in global contexts including India, Nepal, Vietnam, Mexico, South America and the Middle-East. This research has led to strong publications in quality journals such as Journal of Sustainable Tourism, Tourist Studies and Journal of Tourism and Cultural Change. My publications to date speak to ongoing debates in the sociology of tourism about, for example, tourists' quests for 'authenticity' and the effects this has on local communities. They have broader relevance in terms of child labour and child rights, globalisation, development and inequalities.

Selected Publications

Future Research

I have recently carried out research on child trafficking into orphanage tourism in Nepal, with a charity called The Rosie May Foundation, whose work focuses on ethical volunteering in the orphanage sector. This project was used to inform a successful bid for a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship, entitled 'A Qualitative Exploration of the Problems with Orphanage Tourism'. This project will commence in January 2020. I am also currently Co-I on a research project entitled 'Women's Empowerment and Child Health: Exploring the Impact of Rojiroti Microfinance in Poor Communities in Bihar, Northern India'. The project is funded by MRC/AHRC and runs until October 2019.

School of Sociology and Social Policy

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