Socioeconomic and livelihood impacts within Bangkok’s expanding metropolitan region
Georgia Gwinnett College, Towson University, University of Georgia
Bangkok , Thailand , Samut Prakan , urban expansion , migrant laborers
Recent national development plans in Thailand have incorporated concepts of sustainability, livelihood rights, and human dignity. Yet, development and urban expansion have unfolded in unexpected ways, complicating the socioeconomic and ecological integrity of peri-urban and rural spaces. This paper explores the ways in which urban expansion and state development within rural peripheries reshape political economies and, in so doing, the nature of vulnerability and precarity. Using ethnographic data collected among agrarian households in Samut Prakan province and among domestic migrant laborers in the Bangkok Metropolitan Region (BMR), the research considers the socioeconomic and ecological effects of peripheral areas’ tighter integration into expanding urban geographies. In effect, to what degree does urban development unfolding in the BMR improve people’s lives and, simultaneously, rework the dynamics of vulnerability and precarity experienced among those laboring in marginal spaces of the economy? A broad array of ethnographic and Landsat data demonstrates that families and individuals must renegotiate livelihood strategies to mitigate the sociopolitical, economic, and environmental outcomes of development. The findings demonstrate how agrarian families manage the structural and stochastic shocks and pressures of development in urbanizing landscapes and what this means for the future of smallholders situated within changing national economies.