Gender and Social Practices in Migration : A case study of Thai women in rural Sweden

Abstract: 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.