Thai Immigrant Service-based Entrepreneurship in the UK: Mixed Embeddedness, Superdiversity, and Combined Ethnic and Non-Ethnic Capital




Forms of Capital, Immigrant Entrepreneurship, Mixed Embeddedness, Service-Based Entrepreneurship, Thai Migrants


This paper examines Thai immigrant entrepreneurship in the UK, drawing on 17 inter-views with Thai migrants in Brighton, East Sussex. It explores how Thai immigrants from different socioeconomic backgrounds and migration pathways mobilize ethnic and non-ethnic forms of capital in their entrepreneurial activities. Thai immigrants constitute a relatively new, small, but internally diverse migrant population in the UK, with female marriage migrants dominating the Thai migrant population in the past two decades. The findings of this study reveal that Thai migrants tend to own small-scale businesses or provide personal services in three sectors: cleaning and care work, beauty and massage, and food and catering. In their interaction with opportunity structures in the UK, Thai restaurant and massage entrepreneurs mobilize the exotic notion of “Thai-ness” to add value to their services catering to local British customers.

Author Biography

Sirijit Sunanta, Mahidol University

Sirijit Sunanta is Associate Professor in the PhD Program in Multicultural Studies, Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia, Mahidol University, Thailand. Her research interests include gender and migration, globalization and food cultures, and the politics of diversity in Thailand. Sirijit’s current research projects focus on care transnationalization and gendered labour in Thai health and well-being tourism.


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