The Forgotten Family: Labour Migration and the Collapse of Traditional Values in Thailand’s Tribal Communities
Rural communities in northern Thailand have been decimated in recent years as a direct consequence of labour migration. This migration has placed unprecedented pressure on the traditional social and cultural values within tribal communities in Thailand's north. These changes have meant the most vulnerable members of these communities - children and the elderly - are facing dilemmas and challenges unimaginable a decade ago. Among the issues to emerge as a result of labour migration are: homelessness among the elderly, changes to traditional forms of aged care, and grandparent and extended family guardianship of children. Increasing numbers of child-headed households in villages (because parents have moved to cities in search of work) have resulted in an escalation of youth-based violence and has local authorities seeking urgent solutions to address the social and cultural vacuum created by labour migration. This research focuses on the impacts work migration has on 'sending communities' by providing case studies from three villages in Thailand's Nan Province. The paper will argue temporary work migration either within nations, or internationally, has destructive repercussions for sending communities. It will be argued that this type of migration in Thailand is instrumental in eroding ethnic pride and a loss of indigenous culture and language literacy. The research was collected during fieldwork in Thailand during the past three years, two of which were spent as a full-time community development worker in an Ausaid-funded project aimed at building the capacity of tribal youth leaders.
Proceedings from the International Conference on Migration, Citizenship and Intercultural Relations 2009
Race and Ethnic Relations