Aidnography review of Aid Worker Voices

Posted on: October 28, 2016 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Aid Worker Voices book

Here  (and below) is the review of Aid Worker Voices by Tobias Denskus published in Aidnography.   “One of the many advantages of being in charge of your own blog is that formats can be adapted.  As much as this is my review of Thomas Arcaro’s Aid Worker Voices: Survey Results and Commentary, it is also a snapshot of my ongoing discussion I have had with the author prior to reading his book and discussing the current state and future potential behind the project.  In many ways, Aid Worker Voices is a hybrid: It is a work-in-progress report, a data handbook and an example of reflective writing at the intersection of academia and the aid industry.  It is also an invitation to listen to an incredible variety of aid workers and their voices expressed through a unique, comprehensive, long-term survey project.  Based on a census-style 60 question survey that just over 1000 aid…

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Some reviews of Aid Worker Voices

Posted on: October 17, 2016 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Aid Worker Voices book

Some reviews of Aid Worker Voices Below are some reviews of Aid Worker Voices.  Though I put this book together with only the survey respondents in mind, I agree with the reviewers that it will be a useful source of information for those on the outside of the industry that want to get a sense of what aid workers think, feel and experience. A must-read for whoever is interested in understanding aid workers “A must-read for whoever is interested in understanding aid workers or wants to become one, as well as for anyone who took part to the “Aid Worker Voices” survey whose results are presented in this book. The author provides some useful background and reflections, but mostly lets aid workers explain, in their own words, what being an aid worker really means to them: from the initial motivation to work in this field to why they keep doing their…

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What I learned from putting together Aid Worker Voices

Posted on: October 13, 2016 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Aid Worker Voices book

What I learned from putting together Aid Worker Voices Aid Worker Voices was published back in September, 2016 and since then I have been busy extending the research with more in-depth interviews with local aid workers and other posts based on more thought and research about a wide variety of topics. Look soon for update posts about local aid workers here in North Carolina, what is it like to be a LGBQI+ aid worker, and some thoughts about the sector overall. On the margins I am an academic that studies and teaches about aid and development and founded a program with a global development focus, and this puts me decidedly only on the fringes of “the humanitarian aid and development industry.”  What I have learned from working with J (aka Evil Genius) on our survey, writing dozens of posts about the data and, finally, putting together Aid Worker Voices is that though I have a…

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More on the blog that turned into a book

Posted on: September 23, 2016 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Aid Worker Voices book

Below is a press release from Elon University about Aid Worker Voices. Here is the revised press release that came out today that includes comments from Becca Price, Elon ’01, who helped in many phases of the project. Sociologist Tom Arcaro tells the story of the global aid workers using their own voices The book, published by Carpe Viem Press, is now available Sept. 23, 2016 — Using expansive insights from more than 1,000 development aid workers around the world, Tom Arcaro tells the stories of their challenges, triumphs and motivations in “Aid Worker Voices.”  This latest book by Aracaro, a renowned professor of sociology at Elon University, is now available on Amazon as a paperback or Kindle edition through Carpe Viem Press. The book is the product of years of work by Arcaro including an in-depth survey of a broad swath of aid workers. Arcaro has distilled the results of that comprehensive survey to produce “Aid Worker Voices, a nearly 300-page…

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Aid Worker Voices available NOW!

Posted on: September 15, 2016 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Aid Worker Voices book

Aid Worker Voices available NOW! The blog that turned into a book Aid Worker Voices is available for purchase now on Amazon in hard copy or as a download on Kindle. I have so many people to thank in getting this project done.  From the book: ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Thanks to the 1010 nameless aid and development workers who took the time to complete the survey and especially those who provided rich narrative responses to the many open-ended questions. Also thanks to the dozens of aid workers with whom I Skyped, emailed or otherwise communicated with to get additional background information. Special thanks go to Annalisa Addis, Amelie Gagnon, Lucy O’Donoghue and Becca Price for reading, commenting on and contributing to early drafts of the manuscript. I deeply appreciate all of the beta readers for taking time to provide feedback, among them Elizabeth Stanfield, Karen Mac Randal, Dee Zarnowski, Killian Barefoot, Stacey…

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How does your LGBTQ+ identity affect your aid industry workplace experience?

Posted on: September 6, 2016 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Aid Worker Voices book

How does your LGBTQ+ identity affect your aid industry workplace experience? Filling a gap Our original survey did not target the opinions of those who identify as LBGTQ+. Toward the goal of making it possible for Aid Worker Voices to include this significant subpopulation, I did some additional interviews and, on the suggestion of several people, worked with my colleague J to construct a ‘mini-poll’ exploring the question “How does your LGBTQ+ identity affect your aid industry workplace experience?” We began the online survey with these words: The aid industry goes to great lengths to persuade itself and others that it is a champion for justice and equality in the world. The UN system, NGOs of all sizes and kinds, and individual humanitarians invest time, energy, sometimes even money to make the point that they are forever on the right sides of all the issues. If there is one apparent element of aid/dev/NGO/UN worker…

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Cover for Aid Worker Voices

Posted on: August 19, 2016 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Aid Worker Voices book

Cover for Aid Worker Voices And here’s a version of the the cover, still a work in progress.  Cover photograph by J. Tom ArcaroTom Arcaro is a professor of sociology at Elon University. He has been researching and studying the humanitarian aid and development ecosystem for nearly two decades and in 2016 published ‘Aid Worker Voices’. He recently published his second and third books related to the humanitarians sector with ‘Confronting Toxic Othering’ published in 2021 and ‘Dispatches from the Margins of the Humanitarian Sector’ in 2022. A revised second edition of ‘Confronting Toxic Othering’ is now available from Kendall Hunt PublishersMore Posts – Website Follow Me:

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Advice from Becca: you do you

Posted on: August 5, 2016 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Aid Worker Voices book

You do you Our survey respondents were overwhelmingly female -71%- and they had a lot to say on all topics.  Below Becca, a 36 year old expat aid worker, currently living in the US but -no new story here- a frequent traveler to Southeast Asia and west Africa.  Her career story reflects many themes that appeared in our data: She entered the sector very early post-university, not quite knowing what was ahead. Though she has seen some of the worst conditions -think Ebola response in Guinea- she maintains a deep commitment to what she does. Her deployment record is lengthy, varied, and seemingly never-ending. She is challenged by the countless times non-sector people have questioned her job, motives, life choices and even the meaning of her life’s work. Before we get to her thoughts, a personal aside.  I too have trouble with communicating what I do and why I do it up…

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The End: Voices of thanks, snark and next steps

Posted on: July 2, 2016 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Aid Worker Voices book

“Am I done yet?” 
–36-40 yo female HQ worker “I finally feel like I fit somewhere.” –36-40yo female expat aid worker “Did you have an advisor look this over before you created it?” –18-25yo male expat aid worker Voices of thanks and snark Yes, we’re done.  Almost. The only appropriate end to this exploration of aid worker voices must come from the aid workers themselves. Here are their -and my- parting shots. Our final question on the survey, Q61, asked “Please use the space below to share your feelings about any of the above questions.” Yes, at the end of a very long survey containing 61 questions and including 23 open-ended “add your comments” questions, nearly 1 in 5 (18%) intrepid souls felt called to put in their last thoughts.  To each of these aid workers I say “Thanks!” Many, in fact, literally shared their feelings with comments like “I feel all my…

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Aid workers as parents

Posted on: June 24, 2016 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Aid Worker Voices book

“Ultimately it’s a culture change, not just a policy change.” –Lucy, founder of   Aid workers as parents How does that work? A small but significant subset within our survey population -21%- were aid workers who have one or more children. Being an aid worker can be a complex, demanding and all-comsuming occupation.  The fact that many aid workers are also parents -a complex, demanding and all-comsuming job- brings up many questions.  Here are just a few. In a sector characterized by international travel and frequent deployments how can an aid worker be a parent? How does the parenting role differ between males and females, and what are the problems unique to each and those that are common to both? More generally, how do aid workers deal with their part in the family ecosystem of which they are enmeshed either by choice or necessity? What are the leave policies of the big box aid organizations…

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