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Factors and mechanisms of resilience among Turkish migrant women in the UK

Çakır, Sakine Gülfem
The main purpose of this study was to investigate factors and mechanisms of resilience among Turkish migrant women in the UK. For this purpose, qualitative and quantitative methods were used in combination. The quantitative study examined the role of perceived discrimination and social support, psychological distress, and integration acculturation attitude in predicting empowerment scores as the indication of resilience among Turkish migrant women in the UK. Demographic characteristics of education level, perceived English language level and residence status were controlled. The quantitative sample of the study consisted of 248 Turkish migrant women in London, while the qualitative sample of the study included 11 women who were selected among the participants of the quantitative study. Data collection instruments used in the quantitative study included, a demographic data form, Social Support Scale (Cohen & Willis, 1985; Soygüt, 1989), General Health Questionnaire (Goldberg, 1972; Kılıç, 1996), Acculturation Attitudes Scale (Ataca & Berry, 2002), and Empowerment Scale (Sciarappa, Rogers, & Chamberlin, 1994). The qualitative data were collected through narrative interviews by using an interview schedule that consisted of topics like migration story/process, experiences in the UK, coping processes/mechanisms, opportunities, discrimination, language and relationships, gender related experiences, changes in life, and social support networks. Results of the hierarchical regression analysis revealed that the model of linear combinations of educational level, perceived English language level and residence status of participants, perceived discrimination, perceived social support, distress level and integration acculturation attitude significantly explained 38.5% of the total variance in empowerment scores. Among all individual predictor variables, having medium and high educational level, having higher levels of perceived social support and integration attitude, and having lower level of psychological distress were found associated with higher empowerment scores, and thus with higher resilience among Turkish migrant women in the UK. In the qualitative study, the documentary method was used to analyse the transcribed interviews. Results revealed that migration process, language, accommodation, marriage and relationship with husband, social relationships, ties and friends, children and motherhood, losses, husband’s family, loneliness and belongingness, Turkish community, health problems and experiences with health services, and discrimination are the important risk and/or protective factors in the resilience of Turkish migrant women. Results also revealed that having or developing an educational orientation is an important protective factor for Turkish migrant women in the host country. Qualitative findings also showed that although almost all women used some strategies to cope with the demands of their lives in a new country, this process went beyond coping and corresponded to transformation and, in turn, resilience for some women.