Migrants, Modernity, and McDonald's: The Influence of Discourses of "Modernity" on Thai Female Subjectivities and Resistance

Summer 2006

Amanda Pojanamat : Sociology

Mentor: Peter Evans, Sociology

In developing capitalist countries such as Thailand, many women migrate every day from the rural areas to Bangkok in search of the “better life”. I would like to explore how their understandings of the “good life” are influenced by “modern” discourses and whether their constructions and reconstructions of these “modern” discourses contain resistance either to oppressive conditions in the rural areas or in the urban. Do their interpretations of “modernity” ultimately provide them with the discursive tools they need to improve the conditions of their lives? To answer these questions I will work at a McDonald’s in Bangkok and interview rural-urban migrant employees about the empowering and disempowering aspects of “modern” life.

Usually when I visit Thailand I am with my parents and rarely spend more than a couple days in Bangkok. So when I traveled to Thailand with my cousin who was born and raised in Bangkok, my understanding of the city, the country, and even the world changed dramatically. Ever since then I have been fascinated by the dynamics and consequences of urbanization, development, and economic (neoliberal) globalization. SURF has given me the opportunity to explore a topic that has become so near to my heart. Without the funding provided by SURF, I could never afford (in my undergraduate career) to gain first-hand knowledge about the things that shape my own culture and family as well as the world.