Transnational Relations of Lao Migrant Workers in Khon Kaen

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Patra Woralak
Maniemai Thongyou


This article aims to explain the transnational relations of Lao migrant workers in Khon Kaen using the Transnational Living Concept as a framework. The target group of the study consisted of Lao migrant workers who crossed the border to work in Thailand according to the memorandum of understanding (MOU). Qualitative research methods, including semi-structured interviews, indepth interviews, participant observation, and non-participant observation were employed. The research discovered that these workers maintained transnational relations with family and community in many ways: communicating across the border, transferring money to their hometown, supporting local agricultural products, visiting their hometown, participating in social activities with relatives, and some becoming transnational entrepreneurs. Meanwhile, the families also maintained transnational relations with the migrant workers by visiting them in Thailand and consuming cross-border products, some of which they took back to sell in Laos. This research suggests that transnational relations of Lao migrant workers include the economy, society, and culture, and arose from the actions of the workers themselves and their families. Being legal workers under the MOU helps to decrease the restrictions in travelling across the border and enables the workers’ families to visit them in Thailand. Moreover, it helps meet the families’ desire to travel and experience modernity in Thailand.


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Woralak, P., & Thongyou, M. (2017). Transnational Relations of Lao Migrant Workers in Khon Kaen. Journal of Mekong Societies, 13(1), 149-170. Retrieved from