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The experiences of urban poverty among recent immigrants in Ankara : social exclusion or not?

Taşkan, Serpil
The aim of this study is to find some indications about social exclusion in some neighbourhoods in Ankara. Social exclusion has increasingly gained importance as a concept in contemporary social sciences. To attain this aim, firstly, a theoretical framework, through which theories of the concept of social exclusion, main dynamics and differences of this concept from the concept of poverty were discussed. Secondly, a field work was carried out in some squatter settlements in Ankara known as “poor”, to see whether there is social exclusion perceived and lived, by analysing recent immigrants’ daily life experiences of urban poverty and social exclusion. In this study, a qualitative approach formed the basis and in-depth interview were collected. The in-depth interviews were realized with 8 men, as heads of households, and 7 women, as spouses of heads of households, living in squatter settlements in Ankara in February and March 2007. All interviews were recorded and transcribed for the analysis Since De Haan’s (1998) theory of social exclusion shaped the theoretical fame, his methodology and operationalization of social exclusion’s multi-dimensionality were adapted in an attempt to identify experiences and “examples” of excluded and processes forming their exclusions. In conclusion, two main indicators’, gender and ethnicity, impacts on the respondents’ experiences and perceptions of social exclusion appeared as follows: Gender has not appeared as a striking indicator that makes women perceive themselves as excluded. The reason for this has to be seen in the fact that do not have had any serious experiences of social exclusion. They did not mention any conditions of exclusion in terms of economic, social, cultural and political participation in the society that would lead to the experience of exclusion or to a perception of themselves as excluded. The recent women migrants interviewed have a very limited social interaction and direct participation in the social and local life. A reason might be seen in the existing patriarchal system still controlling gender roles in general and a lack of trust of the interviewed women migrants towards their social environment. Ethnicity, however, as an indicator has more determining effects on the respondents’ experiences of exclusion and on their perception of being excluded. Forcibly migrated Kurdish respondents’ experiences after migration to Ankara indicate that, their ethnic identity is a dynamic factor since: first, it results in exclusion from economic and social domains of life, though it does not make them be the “poorest”; second, it makes them perceive themselves as excluded from these domains. Thus, at the last stage, it leads them into a kind of “isolation” from society, as response to exclusive attitudes of the society. In reaction they form ethnic based “semi-isolated communities” which can be described as: strong ethnic and familial/kinship-ties determining their social, cultural, economic life and also their geographical living spaces.