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. There are increasing numbers of child-headed households in villages as parents have moved in search of work. These factors have resulted in an escalation of youth-based violence and have local authorities seeking urgent solutions to address the social and cultural vacuum. 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 that 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. 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.
Journal of Intercultural Studies
Studies of Asian Society