From Migration Studies to Mobility Paradigm: An Evaluation of Frameworks Suitable for a Study of Highly-skilled Migration

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Chantanee Charoensri

Abstract

Highly-skilled migrants, though small in number, have had an influence on sociocultural and economic situations in Thailand. However, there are few theoretical frameworks addressing the study of these migrants and it is not clear whether the concepts and theories applied to migration in general are applicable in the case of those who are highly skilled. This article reviews the frameworks that have been applied to the studies of highly-skilled migration, ranging from scholarship on migration studies to transnationalism to the emerging mobility paradigm. It shows that while none of these frameworks were conceived to understand movements of the highly skilled, they are not inherently un-applicable to research on migration of these groups either. The article further illustrates how these frameworks are products of interaction with empirical phenomena of migration temporally embedded in conditions at different periods which explain different aspects of migration. The article ends with a brief example of how the application of the mobility paradigm sheds new light on understanding the migration experiences of highly-skilled Japanese migrants in Si Racha, Thailand. It also examines what the framework drawing from the mobility paradigm might mean for future research on such migrants. I argue that the mobility paradigm’s contribution to the study of highly-skilled migration is its shift of focus from migrants and their adjustment to the destination society to the formation of mobility which looks at the movement of migrants, meanings, power and infrastructure. In this way, it allows us to see the virtual immobility of the highly skilled to the point that little incorporation into Thai culture is required.

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How to Cite
Charoensri, C. (2020). From Migration Studies to Mobility Paradigm: An Evaluation of Frameworks Suitable for a Study of Highly-skilled Migration. Journal of Mekong Societies, 16(1), 67-88. Retrieved from https://so03.tci-thaijo.org/index.php/mekongjournal/article/view/238909
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