‘Global Householding’ in Mixed Families: The Case of Thai Migrant Women in Belgium

  • Asuncion Fresnoza-Flot
  • Laura Merla
Part of the Palgrave Macmillan Studies in Family and Intimate Life book series (PSFL)


Although marriage migration is on the rise, the global householding of migrant spouses in ‘mixed’ families remains largely understudied. The present chapter attempts to address this empirical gap by examining gender and intergenerational dynamics in the mixed families of Thai women in Belgium. Using the ‘care circulation’ analytical framework, we identify the way bun khun (a culturally defined sense of obligation to care for one’s natal family members, notably parents) influences Thai women’s global householding. We show that, in order to avoid conjugal conflicts while striving to be ‘dutiful daughters’ to their parents, these women adopt three strategies: accomplishing a traditional reproductive role at home, earning their own livelihood, and tapping their family networks of solidarity.



AFF’s study from which the present chapter draws, was supported by a research fellowship of the Belgian National Fund for Scientific Research (FNRS). This study would have not been possible without the trust of the migrant respondents and their family members. The views expressed in this chapter are of the authors and not of the FNRS.


  1. Baldassar, L., and L. Merla, eds. 2014. Transnational Families, Migration and the Circulation of Care: Understanding Mobility and Absence in Family Life. New York & Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  2. Baldassar, L., C. Baldock, and R. Wilding. 2007. Families Caring Across Borders: Migration, Ageing and Transnational Caregiving. London: Palgrave.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bélanger, D., T. Giang Linh, and L. B. Duong. 2011. Marriage Migrants as Emigrants. Asian Population Studies 7 (2): 89–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cole, J. 2014. Producing Value Among Malagasy Marriage Migrants in France: Managing Horizons of Expectation. Current Anthropology 55 (9): 85–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. De Hart, B., W. van Rossum, and I. Sportel. 2013. Law in the Everyday Lives of Transnational Families: An Introduction. Oñati Socio-Legal Series 3 (6): 991–1003.Google Scholar
  6. Delphy, C. 1998. L’Ennemi Principal, Tome 1. Paris: Syllepse.Google Scholar
  7. DEMO, and CGKR. 2013. Statistischendemografisch Verslag 2013. Migraties en Migrantenpopulaties in België. Brussels: Centre de Recherche en Démographie et Sociétés (DEMO), Université Catholique de Louvain and Centrum voor Gelijkheid van Kansen en voor Racismebestrijding (CGKR).Google Scholar
  8. Douglass, M. 2010. Globalizing the Household in East Asia. The Whitehead Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations 11: 63–78.Google Scholar
  9. Fresnoza-Flot, A. 2017. Gender- and Class-Based Transnationalism of Migrant Filipinas in France. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 43 (6): 885–901.Google Scholar
  10. ———. 2017. Time-Embedded Marital Citizenship: Thai Migrant Women and Their Mixed Unions in Belgium. In International Marriages and Marital Citizenship. Southeast Asian Women on the Move, ed. A. Fresnoza-Flot and G. Ricordeau, 41–55. Abingdon & New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  11. Heyse, P., F. Pauwels, J. Wets, and C. Timmerman. 2007. Liefde kent geen grenzen. Een kwantitatieve en kwalitatieve analyse van huwelijksmigratie vanuit Marokko, Turkije, Oost-Europa en Zuidoost Azië. Brussels: Centrum voor gelijkheid van kansen en voor racismebestrijding.Google Scholar
  12. Hondagneu-Sotelo, P. 2015. Comment 3: Widening the Scope and Moving Beyond Care Chains. Papers. Revista de Sociologia 101 (2): 271–274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Iwai, M. 2013. ‘Global Householding’ Between Rural Vietnam and Taiwan. In Dynamics of Marriage Migration in Asia, ed. K. Ishii, 139–162. Tokyo: Tokyo University of Foreign Studies.Google Scholar
  14. Kilkey, M., and L. Merla. 2014. Situating Transnational Families’ Care-Giving Arrangements: The Role of Institutional Contexts. Global Networks 14 (2): 210–229.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Lewis, J. 2001. The Decline of the Male Breadwinner Model: Implications for Work and Care. Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State and Society 8 (2): 152–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Mills, M.B. 2008. Thai Women in the Global Labor Force. Consuming Desires, Contested Selves. New Brunswick/London: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Redmond, M. 2002. Wondering into Thai Culture. Bangkok: Redmondian Insight Enterprises.Google Scholar
  18. Rice, P. 1991. Concepts of Health and Illness in Thai Children. International Journal of Science Education 13 (1): 115–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Suksomboon, P. 2007. Remittances and Social Remittances: Their Impact on Cross-Cultural Marriage and Social Transformation. IIAS Newsletter 45: 6.Google Scholar
  20. Sunanta, S. 2009. Global Wife, Local Daughter: Gender, Family, and Nation in Transnational Marriages in Northeast Thailand. PhD thesis, University of British Columbia.Google Scholar
  21. Tronto, J. 2015. Comment 2: Transnational Care: Family Life and Complexities of Circulation and Citizenship. Papers. Revista de Sociologia 101 (2): 265–269.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Yea, S. 2008. Married to the Military: Filipinas Negotiating Transnational Families. International Migration 46 (4): 111–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Asuncion Fresnoza-Flot
    • 1
  • Laura Merla
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre for Migration Law/Institute for the Sociology of LawRadboud UniversityNijmegenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Centre interdisciplinaire de Recherche sur les Familles et les SexualitésUniversité catholique de LouvainLouvain-la-NeuveBelgium

Personalised recommendations