Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Anthropology

First Advisor

Alejandro Cerón


Cultural anthropology, Ethnography, Negative experience, Organizational culture, Peace Corps


The Peace Corps is a transformative experience for many young Americans. The majority of volunteers have worthwhile services they remember fondly; however, these experiences are not always positive. The Peace Corps is a Cold War initiative that uses soft power techniques to further American exceptionalism, capitalism, and the modernization theory of development. The goal of this project was to understand what factors led to the negative experiences of Peace Corps Volunteers. I conducted an ethnography that focused on online communities, semi-structured interviews, Peace Corps memoirs, and news articles to understand Peace Corps Volunteers’ experiences and the organizational culture where they take place. Findings show that those with negative experiences were unable to live up to the expectations set by Peace Corps, were unsupported by Peace Corps staff, and found that the policies for reporting crimes against volunteers caused further harm. I concluded that volunteers with negative experiences found blame with the Peace Corps as an organization for their negative experiences and recommend a complete cultural shift in how volunteers with negative services are treated and a more inclusive and open conversation about what life as a volunteer is like. However, this cultural shift is only possible by utilizing an organizational culture framework aimed at preventing and addressing misconduct.

Copyright Date


Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

All Rights Reserved
All Rights Reserved.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Nicole Jacobson


Received from ProQuest

File Format



English (eng)


126 pgs

File Size

2.7 MB


Cultural anthropology