Questioning agency and empowerment: Women's work-related strategies and social class in urban Turkey

2010-11-01
This article investigates different trajectories of agency and empowerment in diverse "work-related strategies" employed by women of different social classes in Istanbul, Turkey. I define "work-related strategies" as actions developed to cope with the difficulties related to working or not working, employed by women both in and out of the labor force. Based on in-depth interviews I conducted with 60 women from working, middle, and upper classes, both within and outside the labor force in Istanbul, Turkey, I categorize women's work-related strategies as (1) acceptance of (or preference for) traditional gender roles in the availability of resources from family, (2) clandestine acts used to gain maneuverability, (3) negotiations based on concessions, and finally (4) compensating for structural limitations. I argue that women's agency is class-specific because structural factors affect women from different classes differently, thus leading to the emergence of multiple work-related strategies for working, middle and upper-middle class women. These strategies may meet individual women's practical needs, but are far from fulfilling strategic gender needs. By adopting a critical feminist approach similar to those of Molyneux and Connell, I question the relationship between agency and empowerment in terms of women's work-related strategies in urban Turkey.
WOMENS STUDIES INTERNATIONAL FORUM

Suggestions

Immigrant domestic women workers in Ankara and Istanbul
Çelik, Nihal; Ecevit, Fatma Yıldız; Department of Sociology (2005)
This study focuses on the relationship between global economy and women̕s labor within a feminist standpoint by examining the personal and occupational experiences of immigrant women doing domestic work in Turkey. The main concern of this study is to investigate how working and living experiences of immigrant domestic women workers in Turkey are shaped by their illegal worker and immigrant status. The aim of this study is to listen to the personal experiences of immigrant domestic women workers from themsel...
Packing women’s compromises and tactics against patriarchy In Mersin Hâl
Sönmez, Simge; Beşpınar Akgüner, Fatma Umut; Department of Social Policy (2014)
The main objective of this study is to understand women's working conditions by examining compromises and daily tactics of working women as packing women who have worked at Mersin Gross Bazaar [Hâl] as highly patriarchal workplace. Packing as a job is described by 'women job' because it requires to sit all day, be docile, and have nimble fingers and a good taste. Therefore, packing women were invited to work in Hâl by employers through 'sergeants'. Although, they are hired because of their 'feminine' featur...
Criminalisation and prostitution of migrant women in Turkey: A case study of Ugandan women
Coşkun, Emel (2018-05-01)
© 2018 Elsevier LtdBased on an empirical research, this paper explores Ugandan migrant women's experiences as cheap undocumented migrant workers in gendered segments of the labour market and in prostitution in Turkey. They often face labour exploitation, discrimination as well as sexual harassment. When these difficulties are combined with the pressure from home and paying off debt, some Ugandan women are even pushed to sell sex. This paper argues that migrant women's involvement mechanisms in prostitution ...
From gender equality to gender justice : a critical discourse analysis in terms of gender equality in Turkey
Baba, Elif; Ecevit, Fatma Yıldız; Department of Gender and Women's Studies (2019)
The study focuses on the shift in the axis of women's policies from gender equality to gender justice within the last years in Turkey. Gender justice is the reflection of the miscellaneous transformation policy of the neoconservative discourse on women's issues. The study demonstrates that gender justice is designed by the neoconservative discourse to eliminate the role of gender equality on women's policies, by its distortion. Lacking a theoretical background or an effective argument, gender justice reprod...
In between countries: experiences of women migrant domestic workers from Georgia in Turkey
Dinçer, Cemile Gizem; Ecevit, Fatma Yıldız; Department of Gender and Women's Studies (2014)
This study explores how globalization and restructuring of post-Soviet economies affect women's decision to migrate and their experiences as migrant domestic workers in Turkey. Apart from focusing on the experiences of migrant domestic workers, the study also attempts to make a survey of the factors, which cause employers in Turkey to employ especially domestic workers from Georgia. In order to expose the various aspects of the experiences of women in a non-hierarchical way, thus rendering them more intelli...
Citation Formats
F. U. Beşpınar Akgüner, “Questioning agency and empowerment: Women’s work-related strategies and social class in urban Turkey,” WOMENS STUDIES INTERNATIONAL FORUM, pp. 523–532, 2010, Accessed: 00, 2020. [Online]. Available: https://hdl.handle.net/11511/36784.