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“Selling Thai-ness” to Westerners: the social and development impacts of marketing
“Thai-ness” on entrepreneurs and people who work in the small-scale service sector

This research studies the opportunities for and social consequences of “selling Thainess” to Westerners within Thailand’s strategy for tourist-driven development. First, we examine the opportunity structure for viable small-scale businesses, such as spas, or massage parlours, that sell distinctive “Thai” services. How do entrepreneurs market “Thai-ness” as a cultural product for Westerners? Second, we address the social consequences of selling “Thai-ness” for people (especially women) who work in this sector. How does this impact on the working lives, life-chances and personal wellbeing of individuals, and on their families? Third, our inquiry is embedded in a case study of the tourist city, Hua Hin, so that we examine the small-scale service sector’s contribution to socio-economic development, and its related social consequences, within a specific field and policy context. Fourth, we study how “selling Thai-ness” works as a strategy for Thai women migrants in their efforts to improve their life chances in Britain.

The project, funded by the British Academy and Thai Research Fund under the Newton Advanced Fellowship Scheme, will run between September 2018 and September 2020.

Researchers: Dr Sirijit Sunanta; Professor Paul Statham; Dr Sarah Scuzzarello; Miss Kwanchanok Jaisuekun

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