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Moravian College

Bettyjo LaBare ’20

Tourism and Poverty: The Effects of Rural Tourism on Homeless and Impoverished Communities on The Oregon Coast

Major & Minor: Major; Sociology, Minor; Mathematics
Hometown: Hubbard, OR
Project Advisor(s): Dr. Keshodkar

Tell us about your research.

Over the course of the Summer, I did ethnographic research by looking at the local community in Newport and its interactions with the tourism industry. I started by doing background research on the theoretical frameworks of tourism and poverty, doing my best to focus on research relating to the Oregon coast. I worked with Dr. Keshodkar and a team of people at OSU to analyze social media input to see if there would be any relevant information online that could be utilized. During my time at Newport, I talked to multiple members of the community including government workers and speakers from non-profit organizations. At the end of the project I saw that there was definitely a serious problem in the realm of poverty and homelessness that could potentially be correlated to the prominent tourism industry.

How did it materialize? 

Dr. Keshodkar met with me earlier in the school year and mentioned that he would be working in Newport during the Summer and was wondering if I would be interested in participating. I was immediately interested since the city of Newport is only two hours away from my hometown.

What was the best part about working with your faculty advisor? What valuable insights did they bring to the research process?

The best part of working with Dr. Keshodkar was that I had already taken several classes with him, so we both knew each other fairly well. It was incredibly helpful to be working with someone who already knew my writing style and how best to help me. Also, Dr. Keshodkar has studied tourism in the past in other regions, so he had experience in the research subject.

What was your biggest obstacle?

My biggest obstacle throughout this project was finding an opposing perspective. Almost every person I interviewed had similar views on the homeless community as well as the tourism industry. I was hoping to find opposing perspectives in order to build a broader narrative, but the majority of the community had fairly similar opinions.

What was your biggest takeaway from this experience?

My biggest takeaway from doing this research project was the process of learning how to conduct this  research. At the time I had just finished my Freshman year, so there was a lot that I still did not know about doing this kind of project. Being able to learn from Dr. Keshodkar was extremely helpful. Having this experience has made me more confident in my own abilities and has better prepared me for any opportunities I may have in the future.

What was the result of your research?

Being that this was a fairly open ended and unpredictable task, it was impossible to come up with a clear, definitive answer. The research I conducted did support a negative correlation between tourism and poverty, but like many forms of social research, the project required far more time than one Summer.

Now that SOAR is over, do you plan to expand upon your research? If so, where would you like to see it go?

While I am not sure whether I will continue researching in Newport specifically, I am very interested in looking at homelessness in more urban areas of Oregon. As I intend on moving to Portland in the future, I am very interested in looking at the different facets of homelessness there.

In your own words, how do you feel about being rewarded this opportunity? Why should other students take advantage of the SOAR program?

Being able to conduct a research project so early in my college career was an incredibly rewarding experience. SOAR allowed me to gain knowledge of both sociology and anthropology while also being able to spend time with my family in Oregon. Working with Dr. Keshodkar on this project was a wonderful experience that taught me an immense amount about my personal community in Oregon and my new academic community at Moravian. Other students would definitely benefit from this experience because of its merit both as a Summer job and a research opportunity.