Advancing adaptation or producing precarity? The role of rural-urban migration and translocal embeddedness in navigating household resilience in Thailand

Luise Porst / Patrick Sakdapolrak


In: Geoforum 97 (2018), 35-34 –


Currently two strands of research on migration are producing seemingly conflicting narratives on migration and its impact: one emphasizes potentiality while the other one highlights its link with precarity. Publications addressing the developmental impact of migration and its role for climate-change adaptation often portray migrants as agents of change and highlight the positive potential of migration for resilience. In contrast, research on migration and labour relations indicates the increasingly precarious travel-, working-, and living conditions of migrants – both domestic and international – and the adverse effects on migrants’ well-being. Our objective is to understand the interrelatedness of the seemingly disparate empirical evidence, which results from differences in both foci and socio-spatial scales in the analysis of migration and its impacts. To decipher the interlinkages between the two sides of migration and resilience, we propose a translocal approach, which systematically addresses socio-spatial dimensions and the simultaneity of mobility and situatedness of migrants and non-migrants across space. Our results show the interdependence of translocal connections (e.g. remittances), which reproduce migration motives, and the embeddedness of migrants at the place of destination – a process that is socially stratified and thereby articulates the disparate socio-economic wealth levels of migrants’ households of origin. We conclude that, both the type of embeddedness and the exposure to precariousness determine the extent to which their sojourn proves to be a risk or an opportunity for the migrants and their household of origin.