Should I stay or should I go? A study of human mobility patterns and their relation to socio-economic development in San Phranet, peri-urban Chiang Mai
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The objective of this Master’s thesis is to add to the debate on the relationship between mobility and development. Through the case study of San Phranet, a peri-urban sub-district of Chiang Mai city in northern Thailand, linkages between three fields were scrutinised: • Human mobility: the movement of individuals and groups of people over space and time. • Local capital development: the acquisition, maintenance and exchange of household capital assets, namely human, financial, natural, physical and social. • Outer structural forces: national or global forces of socio-economic development whether intentional or immanent. The study eschews compartmentalisation in migration studies and observes multiple forms of mobility operating through one geographical area. Context is vital here, principally San Phranet's status as a peri-urban zone. With secondary cities in Thailand on the rise, these fringe areas act as fascinating snapshots of urbanisation in process, undergoing rapid dynamic change in terms of demography, land use and economic activity. A mixed methods approach was used to gather secondary data on outer structural forces and onsite information on local livelihoods and mobility patterns. Findings uncovered a variety of relations interacting with a complexity that denies simplistic causal lines. most significant is a strong residential influx to the locality, particularly over the last five years. This new population has contributed towards shifts in local capital development, and the mobility patterns that relate to it. Agriculture is on the wane, as employment profiles prefer full-time waged work in the service and professional sectors. Rice fields are being sold off to exchange natural into financial capital, facilitating housing construction. Indeed, land carries less importance in determining the wealth of a household as San Phranet embraces the monetary economy now dominating Thailand. Aided by private vehicle ownership and modern communications technology, employment, health, social and educational activities have undergone spatial diversification. A relationship with Chiang Mai city dominates, although networks can reach out globally. This challenges a centralised core of social relations in the sub-district. However, permanent and temporary outward migrations remain few, emphasising benefits the locality is perceived to bring for a strong livelihood. Not everyone experiences the advantages of capital development in San Phranet. Pockets of financial poverty are found while rights for incoming minority groups and regional foreign workers are limited. Therefore, it is hoped that this case study reveals not only the positive outcomes from national development strategies, but also where an inclusive nature of benefits demands attention.