Migrant Worker Rights and Norm Contestation in Southeast Asia: Establishing Meaning-in-Use through Social Interaction
This thesis starts from the puzzling observation that the norm of migrant worker protection has produced multiple understandings in both meaning and application in three Southeast Asian countries: Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. This variety is the result of an ongoing process of norm interpretation and reinterpretation in which norm promoters and norm adopters engage in complex and recursive processes of deliberation and contention. The three existing approaches that seek to explain norm...[Show more]
|dc.description.abstract||This thesis starts from the puzzling observation that the norm of migrant worker protection has produced multiple understandings in both meaning and application in three Southeast Asian countries: Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. This variety is the result of an ongoing process of norm interpretation and reinterpretation in which norm promoters and norm adopters engage in complex and recursive processes of deliberation and contention. The three existing approaches that seek to explain norm diffusion are poorly equipped to understand these complex processes. Traditional accounts of norm socialization depict diffusion as a top-down process in which international norms spread and displace local "bad" behaviours. Here, norms are unambiguous and need no interpretation. The localization perspective offers a corrective to the socialization approach's overemphasis on the structuring power of norms. Instead, it stresses the role of local actors in selectively choosing external norms in norm adoption. While the localization perspective mentions the interpretation of norms, it limits this process to an interpretation of the fit between external and local ideas, not the very meaning of those ideas. The critical norm approach embraces complexity and diversity when examining norms in world politics and offers the most promising approach to addressing why singular norms provoke such diverse outcomes. Wiener presents norms as having a dual quality; norms can structure actor's behaviour while also being reconstructed by actors' interaction in context. Central to this understanding is the importance of social interaction in establishing an agreed meaning or intersubjectivity of norms. While this approach has identified the crucial role of contestation, it has not as yet specified how that contestation occurs. It is here where this thesis builds new knowledge. Responding to the explanatory weaknesses of existing approaches, this thesis builds a new theoretical framework to capture the effect and operation of norms. Building on the critical approach, it argues the diversity in norm's meanings is a product of an ongoing norm contestation where actors deliberate and contest validity claims on how migrant worker rights should be understood and protected. This thesis constructs a "norm contestation model" to capture social interaction among actors as they struggle to arrive at an agreed meaning for any particular norm. The model outlines the interaction between two groups of actors - norm promoters and norm adopters - in contestation loops. Contestation in each loop has two main steps. The first step describes the supply side of meaning where norm promoters interpret norms through the act of framing prior to engaging with norm adopters. The second step outlines the receiving side where norm adopters interpret the meaning presented by norm promoters. In advocating meanings, each actor deploy available diffusion mechanisms such as coercion, competition and persuasion that cut across rationalist-constructivist divides. The interpretation can produce three outcomes: adoption, reshaping and rejection of norms. Each outcome signifies the end of a contestation loop, where a temporally stabilized meaning of norms is enacted. The norm contestation model contributes to the critical norm scholarship and creates new knowledge by highlighting the importance of interaction among actors, and between actors and norms, in mutually (re)constituting the intersubjective world. Underlying the arguments, this thesis develops the story of how migrant worker rights norms have been (re)interpreted, argued over and applied in three Southeast Asian states: Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia. Thailand enacted a series of new laws to protect migrant workers from forced labour since 2014; Singapore legislated a weekly day-off policy for foreign domestic workers in 2012; and Malaysia reinstated equal remuneration in 2017 after the policy reversal in 2013.|
|dc.title||Migrant Worker Rights and Norm Contestation in Southeast Asia: Establishing Meaning-in-Use through Social Interaction|
|dc.provenance||Made open access 30.10.20 after no response regarding renewing their restriction.|
|Collections||Open Access Theses|
|Auethavornpipat - Submitted Thesis - 21 October 2019.pdf||Thesis Material||2.91 MB||Adobe PDF|
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