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The Relationships Between Domestic Workers and Their Employers: Udonthani, Thailand.

Ounjit, Wilailak. (2004) The Relationships Between Domestic Workers and Their Employers: Udonthani, Thailand. Doctoral thesis, University of Surrey (United Kingdom)..

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Abstract

This thesis examines women and employment in Udonthani, a city in northeast Thailand, and focuses on the relationship between domestic workers and their employers. This relationship between workers and their employers is different from other relationships because both occupy the same residential accommodation. Female employers in various occupations, including full-time housewives, were studied as well as their domestic workers. The thesis is based on in-depth tape-recorder interviews conducted separately with domestic workers (n=47), and their employers (n=47) in Udonthani, Thailand, which were fully transcribed and analysed using MAXqda. Historically, domestic work is an important field of paid employment, which has existed for many decades. Women have traditionally migrated to urban areas seeking employment opportunities and domestic work has been one important means of entry into the labour market. Live-in domestic work in many cases provides women with at least a minimum level of food and shelter, and may provide a secure and regular income source. However, domestic workers seem to be a forgotten and much neglected group among the workers in Thailand, which is why it is worth researching their position to make their circumstances more visible. This thesis aims to analyse how Thai women employers exercise power by demeaning domestic workers. I argue that the basis of this exploitation rests on the economic and social disparity that exists between Thai rural and urban areas. The domestic workers’ inherent powerlessness occurs in the homes of their employers, which results in their rights being violated. This includes not only the physical control that employers have through their ability to require domestic workers to perform endless menial tasks; but also psychological control, in that domestic workers are expected to conform to every smallest detail of the work that employers set in their own houses. The thesis explores certain attitudes and expectations of the domestic workers towards their employers while living and working inside the employers’ households. The attitudes, expectations, feelings, and opinions of the employers toward their domestic workers also are explored. And the attitudes of both sides measure conceptually the quality of the relationship between employers and domestic workers. Domestic workers in the informal sector are passively under the control of their employers, never successfully resisting authority or discipline from their employers. It seems natural to assume that most domestic workers view themselves as valueless because of their position in the lowest job class available; they feel chronically powerless, subordinated and subservient to nearly everyone else. In addition, these mainly young women do not receive normal amenities available to regular employees, such as contracts covering hours, job security, welfare, bonus or vacation time; they work very long hours, averaging twelve hours per day and seven days a week; and they get paid less than the law requires. This feeling is upheld by Thai culture, where authority traditionally is never questioned. The thesis concludes by presenting suggested policy options the Thai government could use to encourage and support communities to set up organizations providing assistance to this powerless group of Thai women.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Divisions : Theses
Authors : Ounjit, Wilailak.
Date : 2004
Additional Information : Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Surrey (United Kingdom), 2004.
Depositing User : EPrints Services
Date Deposited : 06 May 2020 14:23
Last Modified : 06 May 2020 14:33
URI: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/id/eprint/856239

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