Practising privilege. How settling in Thailand enables older Western migrants to enact privilege over local people

Scuzzarello, Sarah (2020) Practising privilege. How settling in Thailand enables older Western migrants to enact privilege over local people. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. pp. 1-23. ISSN 1369-183X

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Abstract

This article provides an empirical account of how older Western migrants in Thailand (N: 20) negotiate, practice, and justify their privilege in Thai society to secure the ‘good’ life they are seeking through migration. We show that they justify their economic privilege relative to locals by describing it as unavoidable and accepted by Thais. They can also live a ‘good’ life because they benefit from global racialised hierarchies built on the illusion of their superiority vis-à-vis locals. Women and men seem to have distinct ways of enacting privilege. Women practice their privilege through the consumption for their own gratification of reconstructed and stereotypical understandings of Thai culture, cast as primitive, spiritual and authentic. Men, instead, practice privilege in the form of new-found masculinity, sexuality and status that ageing has deprived them of in Western societies. In both cases, their understandings of Thai society and culture are superficial or simply inaccurate. Their narrow and stereotypical views of Thailand rather serve to justify their individual projects for self-gratification, while at the same time allowing them to see themselves as morally superior to local people, but also to exploitative and racist Westerners.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Privilege, Thailand, retirement migration, lifestyle migration
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Geography
Research Centres and Groups: Sussex Centre for Migration Research
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Depositing User: Sarah Scuzzarello
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2020 08:42
Last Modified: 06 Feb 2020 08:45
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/89768

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