Auditioning for the Chorus Line: Gender, Rural Youth, and the Consumption of Modernity in Thailand

  • Mary Beth Mills

Abstract

In the summer of 1997, the sudden collapse of the Thai baht triggered a regional economic crisis. Until that point, Thailand’s record of intensive urban industrialization and rapid commercial expansion had driven one of the fastest growing economies in the world, a favorite of international investors. However, Thai success in attracting global capital had done little to diminish long-standing disparities between rural and urban livelihoods (Mehdi 1993). Indeed, this national pattern of uneven development was critical to the profit-taking of the Thai boom in the 1980s and 1990s to the extent that it helped maintain a ready supply of inexpensive rural labor for urban employers. In particular, rural-to-urban mobility in Thailand—much of which was seasonal or temporary—included large numbers of young women who moved to work in the export-oriented manufacturing and service industries that led the nation’s urban-centered growth statistics (see Pasuk and Baker 1995).

Keywords

Migration Economic Crisis Europe Amid Income 

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© Dorothy Hodgson 2001

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  • Mary Beth Mills

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