Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Philosophy (MPHIL)


Social Sciences


Sociology and Social Policy

First Advisor

Prof. CHAN Hau Nung Annie

Second Advisor

Prof. CHEN Hon Fai


As a multicultural cosmopolitan, transnational migration has an inseparable relationship with the socio-economic development of Hong Kong, the phenomenon of transnational marriage between Hong Kong men and Southeast Asian women has become one of the influential factors impacting the family and social structure in this city. This research aimed to investigate the complicated identities of Thai female migrants within this specific socio-demographic group in Hong Kong. This study, guided by identity, gender, and narrative perspectives, examines the subjective experiences of Thai female migrants through their journey of transnational migration to Hong Kong from an intersectionality perspective. Therefore, the central focus of my research question is 1). How do Thai female migrants living in Hong Kong perceive their identity? 2). How does the Hong Kong context shape Thai female migrants’ identity negotiation? Using qualitative research methodology with an ethnographic approach, in-depth interviews with fourteen Thai female migrants from diverse backgrounds and participant observations were conducted at two field sites in Hong Kong. A thematic analysis was then used to analyse the narratives to examine how these migrants negotiate their national, ethnic and gender identities in the new socio-cultural environment. Based on my in-depth interviews and ethnographic work with Thai migrant communities in Hong Kong, this thesis argues on two grounds. First, the stories shared in the interviews resonated common themes that had impacted on participants’ lives and shaped their identity; being a belief in Buddhism which has a close relationship with Thai nation-state building and identity. Buddhism has become a symbol of the Thai people to articulate their identity and become the connection between Thai migrants and Thailand. Respondents used various strategies to maintain Thainess1 and perceive their identity. Second, I argue when Thai female migrants arrived in Hong Kong, their experiences on the autonomy and freedom for women in Hong Kong society empower them to challenge and question the gender inequality and the definition of woman. Under these circumstances, the subtle idea changes set the way for the negotiation of gender role expectations and reinvent their womanhood in Hong Kong. This study enriches understanding of the dynamic nature of identity negotiation and in-between identity. These findings lend an understanding to illustrate the influence of multiculturalism on female migrants’ meaning making and accentuate the importance to pay attention to diversity within a migrant population; in particular, the presence of various groups of migrants at the same point of time, and to maintain a multicultural orientation to understand transnational migration in the current time.



Recommended Citation

Zhang, Y. (2018). From outsiders to in-betweens: Identity negotiation of Thai female migrants in Hong Kong (Master's thesis, Lingnan University, Hong Kong). Retrieved from

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