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Textures of Struggle

The Emergence of Resistance among Garment Workers in Thailand

Piya Pangsapa

Publication Year: 2007

Based on intensive ethnographic fieldwork in Thailand, Textures of Struggle focuses on the experiences of Thai women who are employed at textile factories and examines how the all-encompassing nature of wage work speaks to issues of worker accommodation and resistance within various factory settings. Why are some women less tolerant of their working conditions than others? How is it that women who have similar levels of education, come from the same socioeconomic background, and enter the same occupation, nevertheless emerge with different experiences and reactions to their wage employment?

Women in the Thai apparel industry, Piya Pangsapa finds, have very different experiences of labor "militancy" and "non-militancy." Through interviews with women at two kinds of factories-one linked to the global economy through local capital investment and another through transnational capital-Pangsapa examines issues of worker consciousness with a focus on the process by which women become activists. She explores the different degrees of control and coercion employed by factory managers and shows how women were able to overcome conditions of adversity by relying on the close personal ties they developed with each other. Textures of Struggle reveals what it is like for women to feel powerlessness and passivity in Thai sweatshops but also shows how they are equally able to resist and rebel.

Published by: Cornell University Press


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pp. 1-2

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 3-8


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pp. vii-10

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pp. ix-x

On completing this research project, I express my deep gratitude to the many remarkable women who so openly and readily shared their lives with me. This book would not have been possible without their participation. I especially thank Sripai, Nay, Pik, Saneh, Soey, Taan, Mai, Pai, Dao...

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Introduction. The Condition of Women Garment Workers in Thailand

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pp. 1-34

Imagine having to work twelve straight hours every day of the week, 360 days a year, in a rundown building, a converted car garage, or a makeshift warehouse with floors made of cardboard boxes and roofs of thin aluminum siding. Imagine working when it’s hot and humid, 98 degrees...

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1. Adaptation and Accommodation: The “Nonmilitant” Women

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pp. 35-79

The factory represents the predominant physical space where women build close personal relationships and an att achment to the stability that work offers. This chapter tells the story of a group of women workers who have never been involved in any form of direct action against their employer...

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2. Resistance and Worker Rebellion: The “Militant” Women

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pp. 80-129

The stories of women in this chapter reveal a “militant” consciousness evolving at a time when the textile industry was at its height in the early 1990s. Economic prosperity meant greater profits for factory owners and greater exploitation for workers. Workers in manufacturing industries...

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3. Workers in the Post-Crisis Period

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pp. 130-166

The financial crisis in East Asia, triggered by the collapse of the Thai baht in July 1997, prompted many large employers to close down their factories and outsource production to smaller, non-unionized, subcontract factories as a cost-cutting measure. Massive layoffs of women in export...

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Conclusion. Looking Back, Moving Forward

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pp. 167-183

On Tuesday, December 17, 2002, F2 shut down its operations without advance warning to any of its workers. Women coming to work as usual that morning found the factory gates locked. Workers were given no reason why the factory closed. Later that day, workers discovered that the...


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pp. 185-203


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pp. 205-208


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pp. 209-217

E-ISBN-13: 9780801461743
Print-ISBN-13: 9780801445910

Page Count: 232
Publication Year: 2007

Edition: 1