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The Impact of Thailand's Migrant Worker Law on Literacy and Social Media among Ethnic Shan Female Migrants from Myanmar

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 March 2022

Abstract

This article studies the social and technological barriers that prevent documented and undocumented female migrants in Thailand's Chiang Mai Province from improving their literacy skills and using social media such as Facebook. In July 2019, our team conducted nine focus-group discussions (FGD) with 38 participants using a picture sorting activity. Using graphics in the FGDs helped us to better engage with migrant populations with low literacy skills. Demographic information of each FGD participant was also collected. Findings show that Thailand's current laws for migrant workers are the barrier that have negative impacts on literacy improvement and social media usage among both documented and undocumented ethnic Shan female migrants from Myanmar. As Thailand's law only permits migrants to work in labor-intensive jobs with minimum wage and no benefits, they do not have time and energy to spend on learning the Thai language and other skills. This reduces the migrants’ abilities to interact with Facebook. Additionally, undocumented migrants could not buy a SIM card with the cellular data plan to use their Facebook account directly from their cellphones because Thailand's laws require all network providers to officially register all SIM card purchases and only sell to documented persons.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s), 2022. Published by International Association of Law Libraries

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Footnotes

1

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not represent the views of the organizations and funders with which the authors are affiliated.

2

© Channarong Intahchomphoo 2021. (Corresponding author, cinta088@uottawa.ca) Dr. Intahchomphoo is a Research Fellow at the Faculty of Engineering, University of Ottawa, Canada and an Affiliated Researcher at the University of Ottawa's Canadian Robotics and AI Ethical Design Lab (CRAiEDL). He is currently employed as a Data Research Librarian at the University of Ottawa Library.

3

© André Vellino 2021. (avellino@uottawa.ca) Dr. Vellino is an Associate Professor at the School of Information Studies, University of Ottawa, Canada.

4

© Odd Erik Gundersen 2021. (odderik@ntnu.no) Dr. Gundersen is an Associate Professor at the Department of Computer Science, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway.

5

© Piyapat Jarusawat 2021. (piyapat.j@cmu.ac.th) Dr. Jarusawat is a Lecturer at the Department of Library and Information Science, Chiang Mai University, Thailand.

6

© Pranee Wongjamras 2021. (pranee.w@cmu.ac.th) Ms. Wongjamras is a Retired Professor from the Department of Library and Information Science, Chiang Mai University, Thailand.

7

© Naomi Tschirhart 2021. (ntschirh@uottawa.ca) Dr. Tschirhart is an Adjunct Professor at the Interdisciplinary School of Health Sciences, University of Ottawa, Canada and the Department of Family Medicine, Chiang Mai University, Thailand. She is also an Affiliated Researcher at the Centre for Global Health, University of Oslo, Norway.

References

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10 Bryce C. Newell and Ricardo Gomez, “Informal Networks, Phones and Facebook: Information Seeking and Technology Use by Undocumented Migrants at the US-Mexico Border,” iConference 2015 Proceedings, (2015): 1–10.

11 Tsai, Jenny Hsin-Chun, “Use of Computer Technology to Enhance Immigrant Families’ Adaptation,” Journal of Nursing Scholarship 38, no. 1 (2006): 8793CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed.

12 The country's current official name is the Republic of the Union of Myanmar since 1989, previously known as “Burma”. This article uses the country name “Myanmar” throughout.

13 Thailand Foreign Workers Administration Office, “Statistics of the Numbers of Foreigners Permitted to Work throughout the Kingdom in March 2018,” last modified August 11, 2020, https://www.doe.go.th/prd/assets/upload/files/alien.

14 Thailand Business News, “Thailand Rushes to Register 1.6 Million Undocumented Migrants,” last modified August 11, 2020, https://www.thailand-business-news.com/visa/68498-thailand-rushes-to-register-1-6-million-undocumented-migrants.html.

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16 See the red star on Map 1, infra.

17 Chiang Mai Provincial Statistical Office, “Population and Demography Statistics,” last modified August 7, 2020, http://chiangmai.old.nso.go.th/nso/project/search/index.jsp?province_id=48&fid=3.

18 Ibid.

19 Thailand Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, “2015 report,” last modified August 11, 2020, https://www.m-society.go.th/article_attach/18712/20429.pdf

20 For examples, see, Veronis, Luisa, Tabler, Zac, and Ahmed, Rukhsana, “Syrian Refugee Youth Use Social Media: Building Transcultural Spaces and Connections for Resettlement in Ottawa, Canada,” Canadian Ethnic Studies 50, no. 2 (2018): 7999CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Komito, Lee, “Social Media and Migration: Virtual Community 2.0.,” Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 62, no. 6 (2011): 10751086CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Damian, Elena and Van Ingen, Erik, “Social Network Site Usage and Personal Relations of Migrants,” Societies 4, no. 4 (2014): 640653CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

21 Supra, note 7.

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26 Colored in blue on Map 1, infra.

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29 See Map 1, infra.

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31 Tschirhart, Naomi, Jiraporncharoen, Wichuda, Angkurawaranon, Chaisiri, Hashmi, Ahmar, Nosten, Suphak, McGready, Rose, and Ottersen, Trygve, “Choosing Where to Give Birth: Factors Influencing Migrant Women's Decision Making in Two Regions of Thailand,” PLOS ONE 15, no. 4 (2020): e0230407CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed. See also, Colucci, Erminia, “Focus Groups Can be Fun”: The Use of Activity-Oriented Questions in Focus Group Discussions,” Qualitative Health Research 17, no. 10 (2007): 14221433CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed.

32 The use of an interpreter was not necessary because one of the authors is a native of Chiang Mai who also speaks Southwestern Tai.

33 Braun, Virginia and Clarke, Victoria, “Using Thematic Analysis in Psychology,” Qualitative Research in Psychology 3, no. 2 (2006): 77101CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

34 Co-author Channarong Intahchomphoo created the codebook for the themes and was the principal coder for all the FGD data. Co-authors André Vellino and Odd Erik Gundersen guided the overall analysis and discussion. Co-author Naomi Tschirhart provided guidance on the research methodology and assisted with data interpretation.

35 Guest, Greg, Bunce, Arwen, and Johnson, Laura, “How Many Interviews are Enough? An Experiment with Data Saturation and Variability,” Field Methods 18, no. 1 (2006): 5982CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

36 Taunggyi is circled in red on Map 1, above.

37 Thailand Foreign Workers Administration Office, “Laws on Foreign Workers Administration,” last modified August 11, 2020, https://www.doe.go.th/prd/alien/law/param/site/152/cat/6/sub/0/pull/category/view/list-label

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