Thais in the United Kingdom

This project aims to examine the lives of Thai-born people in the UK, a sample of the British minority population on which there is little systematic empirical information. A key focus is to study their experiences of migration to and settlement in the UK. On one side we want to look at the cultural interaction of Thais with the people and institutions British society (identification, ‘integration’, acculturation, cultural and religious difference, perceived discrimination), while on the other, we are interested in the degree and forms of transnational links, communication and ties that Thais maintain with their homeland.

The main objective of this project is to provide the first grounded empirical study on Thai migrants’ lives in the UK and the connections they retain to their homeland. So far, little is known about this community and their existence in the UK from survey research. Traditional categories applied in British minority surveys have not really been able to capture samples of Thais.

The first focus of our research is the cultural interface between Thais and British people, society and state. To what degree do Thais interact, engage and identify with British people, as friends, family, neighbours, colleagues, and in community life, and with what experiences? Also, what are their experiences interacting with state institutions (e.g., their children in schools, in hospitals) and public and associational life in the UK? Are their experiences of engagement limited, are they positive, do they perceive discrimination?

The second focus of our research is on the degree and forms of transnational links that Thais maintain to sustain their lives in the UK. Here there are clear overlaps with questions we have mentioned about their cultural engagement with the UK: to what degree do they maintain transnational links to their homeland? What form do these take? Is there a trade-off between engagement with the UK and engagement with the homeland?

Paul Statham and Miss Pattraporn Chuenglertsiri have been awarded a grant from the Methodology Academia Research Initiative (MARI), funded by the Ethnic Focus Research and they have developed a survey that will be carried out by Ethnic focus Research.

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