Title: Explaining the lack of change in Southeast Asia: the practice of migrant worker rights in the 'ASEAN migration field'

Authors: Ruji Auethavornpipat

Addresses: Department of International Relations, Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, ANU College of Asia and the Pacific, The Australian National University, ACT, 2601, Australia

Abstract: ASEAN's regional norms of sovereign equality, non-interference, consultation and consensus or the 'ASEAN way' are often used as a scapegoat for explaining the failure of ASEAN and, therefore, the lack of change in Southeast Asia. This perspective, however, does not suggest much about deeper state preferences that drive decision-making, even less so the processes in which ASEAN members arrive at their decisions. In contrast, this article contributes to the 'practice turn' in International Relations and argues that the success and failure of ASEAN regionalism very much depends on state's background knowledge - the habitus that predisposes state actions. By examining the deadlock in the almost decade-long negotiations of the ASEAN instrument on the protection of migrant worker rights, this article sheds light on how Malaysia's past experiences with labour migration shape its current practice that is estranged from regional demands, hence creating its reluctance to compromise on the migrant worker rights agenda in ASEAN.

Keywords: ASEAN instrument negotiation; ASEAN migration field; ASEAN regionalism; 'ASEAN way'; capital; field; habitus; norm socialisation; Malaysia; migrant worker rights; Pierre Bourdieu; practice theory; practice turn; Southeast Asia.

DOI: 10.1504/IJMBS.2019.102419

International Journal of Migration and Border Studies, 2019 Vol.5 No.3, pp.153 - 171

Received: 21 Jan 2017
Accepted: 19 Dec 2017

Published online: 24 Sep 2019 *

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