Everyday recomposition

Precarity and socialization in Thailand's migrant workforce

by Stephen Campbell

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As a site of manufacturing growth since the 1990s, the Mae Sot industrial zone in northwest Thailand has increasingly employed migrant workers from Myanmar. Yet the social dynamics of Myanmar migrant groups employed in Mae Sot's garment sector do not align with North Atlantic narratives of class fragmentation. Rather, labor flexibilization at this site has had socially constitutive effects. As flexibilization has expanded in Thailand, the very practices by which the country's garment companies have sought to create low-wage, flexible workforces have themselves produced conditions of possibility for new forms of relationality and socialization among workers. The resulting social cohesion has formed, in turn, a basis for solidarity among workers when they carry out factory strikes.