Let’s say goodbye: The moralising practices of gap year organisations in the Netherlands

Responding to the growing appeal of the gap year amongst young people, the higher education sector, governmental institutions and, perhaps foremost, the tourism industry are increasingly starting to realise the potential of promoting tourism as an arena with moral status and codes, influencing society and individual lives in ‘new’, different and powerful ways. Due to this burgeoning global and identifiable gap year industry, the network of public and private organisations, support services, practices and beliefs has become increasingly open to scrutiny. This paper aims to contribute to a new research agenda exploring the broader cultural influence of the gap year industry in the Netherlands through a discourse analysis of online resources targeting young people. In particular, the paper explores the moralising practices of gap year organisations involved in promoting, negotiating and regulating new moral values and meanings of, and through, tourism. The paper concludes with a critical impression of how these organisations claim to offer a more distinctive way of reflection, and thereby contribute to negative and narrowed views on mass tourism and, in all likelihood, a distorted sense of global citizenship amongst young people.

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Keywords: discourse, gap year, moralisation, representations, tourism, values
Categories: Tourism and its potential as a social force