Householding and Land Ownership: Constructing a Typology of Circular Migration of Cambodian Migrant Workers in Thailand

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Steve Kwok-Leung Chan
Kevin S.Y. Tan


Labor migration is no longer a linear movement or even a one-way and one-directional flow of labor. The advancements in transportation and communication technologies have changed trans-border mobility from permanent to a large extent, circular. Interestingly, the wage gap between labor-sending and labor-receiving countries is not the only reason triggering the move. Working abroad has become a decision made by Cambodian households, resulting in about one million Cambodian migrant workers in Thailand. Migrant workers, especially undocumented laborers, are more vulnerable to abuse, exploitation, and trafficking. In response, this irregularity facilitates the circularity of these migrant workers. To explore this phenomenon, this paper attempts to construct the typology of circular migration, namely quasi-permanent migration, sojourning, and return. Qualitative methods consisting of group and individual interviews were employed in interviewing Cambodian workers in Rayong, Thailand, and returnees in Kampong Cham, Cambodia. The findings suggest that land-owning Cambodian households adopt a householding strategy, work in Thailand, and migrate circularly back home periodically.


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Chan, S. K.-L., & Tan, K. S. (2022). Householding and Land Ownership: Constructing a Typology of Circular Migration of Cambodian Migrant Workers in Thailand. Journal of Population and Social Studies [JPSS], 31, 198–215. Retrieved from
Research Articles
Author Biography

Steve Kwok-Leung Chan, Department of Sociology, Keimyung University, South Korea

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