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The work strategies and experiences of the wave of 1989 immigrants from Bulgaria settled in Ankara

Karakılıç, İlhan Zeynep
This study focuses on the work strategies of 1989 immigrants who had to move from Bulgaria to Turkey and settled in Ankara. During this immigratio wave, nearly 150,000 people immigrated to Turkey and settled permanently. In this study, the operational definition of the immigrant work strategy is the activities and the attitudes that the immigrants take to find and maintain thier first jobs, immediately after immigration. To learn about the work strategies of the immigrants, I conducted a field research which was based on semi-structured in depth interviews. In my sample, there are fifteen women and fifteen men who have work experience both in Bulgaria and Turkey. During the field research, ı asked the respondents questions about their immigration ad settlement processes, their working lives, both in Bulgaria and Turkey and their perceptions about working. Theni to interpret this data, I employ three approaches from the international migration literature: migration system approach, political approach and network aapproach with some important concepts like social capital and work ethic and I tried to connect them with work strategies of the immigrants. As a result of this study, it is suggested that to improve their standards of living, the immigrants developed a work strategy with two main steps: finding a job and maintaining this job. Immigrants follow different patterns in these two steps. While they are trying to find a job, they benefit from existing immigrants' networks which are products continous immigration waves from Bulgaria to Turkey and Turkish state's provisions which are for the accomadation of the immigrants who are privileged in the eyes of the state due to their ethnicity and religion. As a second step of the work strategy, they maintain these jobs with the help of work ethic they gained in Bulgaria and their ignorance about the operation of Turkish labour market. With these characteristics they are distinguished among the non-immigrant workers. The narratives which are widely told by the immigrants and shared by the employers and other employees enviably also emphasize how hardworking they are, how loyal they are to their job, to their employers and to their country and strenthen the immigrants' position in the labour market.