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Exploring human (in-)security from a gender perspective: A case study of subcontracted workers in Thailand

Shinobu Sasaki (Department of Gender and Development Studies, Asian Institute of Technology, Bangkok, Thailand)
Kyoko Kusakabe (Department of Gender and Development Studies, Asian Institute of Technology, Bangkok, Thailand)
Philippe Doneys (Department of Gender and Development Studies, Asian Institute of Technology, Bangkok, Thailand)

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

ISSN: 0144-333X

Article publication date: 13 June 2016

Abstract

Purpose

Using the concept of human security, the purpose of this paper is to explore the subjective perception of insecurities experienced by Thai subcontracted workers in industrial value chains and examines how they mitigate these insecurities.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper uses a qualitative approach and analyses the narratives from in-depth interviews with 23 female subcontracted workers in low-income communities in Bangkok, Thailand. Four male subcontracted workers were also interviewed to compare gender differences. Five key informant interviews with NGOs and academicians were conducted.

Findings

There are three main findings. First, subcontracted workers’ economic insecurities are influenced by their work and personal trajectories in the labour market. Second, many of their health and care-related insecurities are fuelled by relational rather than individual experience; that is, they are worried they will not be able to provide care for their children, to fulfil their responsibility as mothers, or they are concerned with the effects of their hazardous work environment on their family members. Third, most subcontracted workers mitigate their insecurities using their immediate relational network in the absence of formal protection.

Originality/value

While earlier literature on subcontracted workers’ vulnerabilities in Thailand discussed the issues from a politico-economic perspective, this paper uses the concept of human security, which enables us to better understand their insecurities as context-specific experiences in their daily lives.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors thank all the respondents, key informants, Nattapat Jatupornpimol, Kanokphan Jongjarb and Vilasinee Sukhga. A special thanks go to Dr Boonsom Namsomboon and Dr Donna L. Doane.

Citation

Sasaki, S., Kusakabe, K. and Doneys, P. (2016), "Exploring human (in-)security from a gender perspective: A case study of subcontracted workers in Thailand", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 36 No. 5/6, pp. 304-318. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSSP-03-2015-0036

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited