Connecting the disconnected: Background, practices and motives of labour brokers in Isan, Thailand - An explorative study
Number of pages
SourceInternational Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, 5, 5, (2010), pp. 359-372
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ RSCR CAOS
International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences
SubjectAnthropology and Development Studies
International labour migration is one of the major issues of our time. Nowadays around 192 million people work outside their country of birth, about three percent of the world’s population. This rapidly increasing phenomenon is examined in a large number of studies on migration. Most of these studies, however, focus on the experiences and practicalities of migrants at the place of destination. In this study, we provide insight into the other side of the migration coin by investigating the experiences, motives and pathways of a carefully selected group of labour brokers living in the northeast of Thailand. Thailand is one the major suppliers of migrant workers who mostly come from the north-eastern part of Thailand, from a region called Isan. Local labour brokers are the heart of the whole labour migration system in Thailand but we do not really know why and how people become labour brokers, what they do and how they operate. By studying large issues in small places, as Eriksen (1995) phrased it, we aim to contribute to the understanding of the process of migration in general, and more specifically the supply end of the migration chain. Our main findings suggest that Isan labour brokers have often been migrants themselves. They want to become labour brokers in order to improve their social position, or to help their relatives and friends. They succeed because of some unique qualifications: overseas experience, entrepreneurial skills, access to information, overseas and local networks and, above all, embeddedness and status in the community in which they live.
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