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Gender and Social Practices in Migration: A case study of Thai women in rural Sweden
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Human Geography.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6289-2380
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Set within discussions of gender, migration and social practices, this thesis explores the ways in which Thai women migrants to Sweden build connections between rural areas through their daily activities. Arriving in Sweden primarily through marriage ties, Thai women migrants are more likely to live in Swedish rural areas than in urban areas. Rural areas are typically not seen as a site of globalization or as receivers of international migrants. In contrast to these perceptions, the case of Thai women migrants in the Swedish countryside reveals a complex and vigorous set of social practices that connect rural Sweden across spatial and temporal scales.

The aim of this study is to explore the ways in which Thai migrant women construct and implement social practices spatially and temporally. Drawing on the life stories of 16 Thai women living in Sweden, along with other sources of empirical data analysed within feminist epistemologies, this thesis discusses: In what ways does gender shape migrant social practices? How are social practices constructed within individual migrant micro-geographies? By what means are migrant social practices contextualized by spaces and places?

Thai women migrants are gendered agents of these social practices and are utilizing specific resources, objects and networks to bridge the distances found in their daily lives. The empirical material examined in this thesis points to the importance of women’s everyday social practices in connecting and linking rural areas globally at different spatial and temporal scales.

The results highlight the importance of a translocalism perspective to understanding gendered social practices. This study adds to the translocal discussion by demonstrating that social practices are embedded in multiple geographic sites and scales. Thai women migrants, in this study, emerge as significant actors in global countrysides and do the functional work of bringing spaces and places together daily and through their life course.

This thesis consists of an introductory chapter and five papers. The introductory chapter outlines the context and theoretical approaches to understanding Thai migration flows to Sweden. The papers share an emphasis on local sites: homes, workplaces and community. They examine different ways that women construct and build social practices – for example, through food, community projects and in developing their businesses.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Human Geography, Stockholm University , 2016. , 97 p.
Series
Meddelanden från Kulturgeografiska institutionen vid Stockholms universitet, ISSN 0585-3508 ; 152
Keyword [en]
Gender, social practices, migration, rural, translocalism, micro-geographies, mobilities, spatial relations, case study, narrative interviews, life course, feminist epistemology, Thailand, Sweden
National Category
Human Geography
Research subject
Geography with Emphasis on Human Geography
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-134565ISBN: 978-91-7649-497-4OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-134565DiVA: diva2:1034192
Public defence
2016-12-02, Nordenskiöldsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 12, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
Swedish Research Council Formas, reg. no. 2007 - 2019
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 3: Manuscript. Paper 4: Submitted. Paper 5: Submitted.

Available from: 2016-11-09 Created: 2016-10-11 Last updated: 2016-11-16Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Thai women in Sweden: Victims or participants?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Thai women in Sweden: Victims or participants?
2016 (English)In: Social Science Asia, Vol. 2, no 1, 13-29 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Migration from Thailand to Sweden is a rapidly growing phenomenon with a threefold increase over thelast ten years, with the majority of migrants being female marriage migrants. In Nordic media andpopular culture, stereotyping of Thai-Swedish couples is commonplace, focusing on unequal powerrelations, sex tourism and other social problems which often position Thai women “as both materialistrural women and ignorant victims” (Sunanta, 2013, p. 193). Our paper positions and explores thestatus of this unique group of migrants through a power and agency lens and by adopting a multimethodsapproach. Using register data, we give a detailed picture of the migration and sociodemographicfeatures of Thais in Sweden, while in-depth interviews with Thai women provide nuancedunderstandings of Thai-Sweden migration. We find a complex narrative of migration, where Thaiwomen are active agents in their migration process but still face many inequalities in Sweden. Adiversified picture of these women is revealed suggesting that power and agency are situated spatiallyand temporally.

Keyword
gender, power, agency, migration, mixed methods
National Category
Human Geography
Research subject
Geography with Emphasis on Human Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-134547 (URN)
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2007-2019Forests and other plants
Note

Official Journal of National Research Council of Thailand in conjunction with Journal of Population and Social Studies.

Available from: 2016-10-11 Created: 2016-10-11 Last updated: 2016-10-24Bibliographically approved
2. "Women in Groups Can Help Each and Learn from Each Other?: The Role of Homosocial Practices within Women's Social Networks in Building Local Gender Contracts
Open this publication in new window or tab >>"Women in Groups Can Help Each and Learn from Each Other?: The Role of Homosocial Practices within Women's Social Networks in Building Local Gender Contracts
2016 (English)In: Géneros: Multidisciplinary Journal of Gender Studies, ISSN 2014-3613, Vol. 5, no 3, 1072-1095 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
National Category
Human Geography
Research subject
Geography with Emphasis on Human Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-134552 (URN)10.17583/generos.2016.1992 (DOI)
Funder
Swedish Research Council Formas, 2007-2019
Available from: 2016-10-11 Created: 2016-10-11 Last updated: 2016-10-24
3. Spicy Meatballs and Mango Sylt: Exploring translocal food practices in rural Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Spicy Meatballs and Mango Sylt: Exploring translocal food practices in rural Sweden
2016 (English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

What role does food play in the migration process? The theme of this paper is to discuss how everyday practices in food preparation could be used as a tool for integration. Food practices effect in-migrant’s everyday life in rural Sweden and support transnational connections. Using rural areas as an example, our interest is on how food related practices are experienced by people with non-Swedish backgrounds and how they combine the experiences from their current rural locality with the practices in their place of origin. Immigrant’s spatial involvements are analysed in order to see to what extent culinary practices can be a channel for integration. Rural areas are of particular interest as the ingredients used for migrant’s culinary ambitions are seldom available. The pursuit of ingredients is an indication of how vital well-known meals are to in-migrant’s well-being. Food plays a special role in the daily lives of migrant women, both socially and economically. They serve as a connection across time and space linking sending and receiving places together. The article presents some examples of integration projects in rural areas and for one significant rural immigrant group in Sweden, namely Thai women. The food-related practices are analysed through the lens of a translocal understanding. 

17 p.
Keyword
food, migration, integration, translocal, women, Thai, Sweden
National Category
Human Geography
Research subject
Geography with Emphasis on Human Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-134557 (URN)
Funder
Swedish Research Council Formas, 2007 - 2019
Available from: 2016-10-11 Created: 2016-10-11 Last updated: 2016-10-18Bibliographically approved
4. Thai women entrepreneurs in Sweden: Critical perspectives on migrant small businesses
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Thai women entrepreneurs in Sweden: Critical perspectives on migrant small businesses
(English)Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
Abstract [en]

Thai migrant women are an important and visible part of the small business community in Sweden, most notably through restaurants, massage spas and small shops. In this paper we explore the overlap between migration and entrepreneurship and position ourselves within the feminist entrepreneurial framework. We ask: which Thai women become entrepreneurs? How does being migrant women shape their entrepreneurial activities and practices? Our paper employs a mixed-method design to explore Thai migrant businesses, giving a detailed overview of which women become entrepreneurs based on register data, and providing space for the narratives of women. We find a gendered approach to understanding the business activities of Thai women business practitioners does challenge normative perspectives on entrepreneurship. We show that family structure, migration length, education and partner’s labor market status all play important roles. Furthermore, we find that small businesses are sites of negotiation and contestation.

Keyword
entrepreneurship, Thai migrants, gender, mixed methods, small business, Sweden
National Category
Human Geography
Research subject
Geography with Emphasis on Human Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-134559 (URN)
Funder
Swedish Research Council Formas, 2007 -2019
Available from: 2016-10-11 Created: 2016-10-11 Last updated: 2016-10-18Bibliographically approved
5. Rural-to-Rural Translocal Practices: Thai Women Entrepreneurs in the Swedish Countryside
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Rural-to-Rural Translocal Practices: Thai Women Entrepreneurs in the Swedish Countryside
(English)Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
Abstract [en]

This article explores the under-researched topic of rural-to-rural interrelations examined through small businesses, owned by Thai migrant women, situated in rural Sweden. Thai migration to Sweden is a gendered flow that often originates in rural areas in Thailand. Drawing on empirical material from Sweden and Thailand, this paper examines the ways Thai migrant women build connections and facilitate flows between rural regions through goods, products, services and human resources. Based on qualitative narrative interviews, it reveals that translocal businesses are contingent upon the local contexts and resources of both source and receiving regions. Findings show translocal practices are gendered and embedded in day-to-day social and economic practices. The translocal perspective suggests insights for supporting rural women migrant entrepreneurs. 

Keyword
Rural-to-rural, Translocalism, entrepreneurialism gender, Thai migrants, Sweden
National Category
Human Geography
Research subject
Geography with Emphasis on Human Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-134556 (URN)
Funder
Swedish Research Council Formas, reg no. 2007 - 2019
Available from: 2016-10-11 Created: 2016-10-11 Last updated: 2016-10-18

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