Thai Airline Workers and the Transnational Gift

Thai Airline Workers and the Transnational Gift
Haneda Airport, model of Thai Airways 747, taken by Jane

Airline jobs have valuable opportunity benefits beyond the prescribed work role. This presentation explores how these situations affect cabin crews’ relationships with friends and families, as codified in gifts and consumer practices. Airline workers frequently contend with requests to acquire certain consumer goods or transport objects as a personal favor. This is due several factors within kin or social relations, including but not limited to: the public’s perception of airline jobs; how transport labor is valued; and ideas of prestige and aspirational consumerism. This can create special strains on relationships. The ways in which airline workers mediate gift economies related to the company, various markets, and their social connections has created a learned etiquette not only for giving gifts in the context of airline work, but also in interface with gift requests and labor demands from non-airline people. With ethnographic evidence from Thai airline cabin crews and expanding on Marcel Mauss’ classic anthropological work on The Gift, this chapter will add a third persona to the social process: the giver, the recipient, and the transporter.

Jane M Ferguson teaches anthropology and Southeast Asian History in the School of Culture, History and Language at the Australian National University

Zoom Link:
Meeting ID: 812 1179 0732
Password: 968025

Date & time

Mon 24 Apr 2023, 3–4pm


Rm 3.369 HC Coombs Building ANU


AsPr Jane Ferguson, ANU


Natasha Fijn


Updated:  21 April 2023/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications