Linguistic capital: Language as a socio-economic resource among Kurdish and Arabic women in Turkey

Data from the 1998 Turkish Demographic and Health Survey are used to gain insight into the characteristics of the non-Turkish speaking individuals in Turkey and in the socio-economic consequences of not speaking Turkish for them. The very large majority of non-Turkish speaking individuals turn out to be Kurdish and Arabic women, living in East Turkey and in the countryside. The data indicate that of the married women aged 15-49 in Turkey, about 4 per cent, or one in 25, is not able to speak Turkish. More than 90 per cent of these women has not finished primary education. Regarding their social background, our results suggest that they were more under the influence of traditional cultural values, that their access to the public domain was limited, and that they were more heavily controlled by their family. Regarding the consequences of not speaking Turkish, we found the non-Turkish speaking women to be less employed in the formal economy, to have husbands with lower educational levels and occupations and to have lower family incomes. This result is in line with the predictions of linguistic capital theory.


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Data from the Turkish Demographic and Health Surveys are used to study Turkish-Kurdish intermarriage in contemporary Turkey. We find a strong tendency to marry within the own ethnic group (or towards 'ethnic homogamy') which, however, has decreased significantly between the early 1960s and the late 1990s. So, in spite of the conflict in south-eastern Turkey, the groups seem to have grown together somewhat in recent decades. This result remains intact if we control for the difference in group size between th...
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Citation Formats
J. Smits and H. A. Hoşgör, “Linguistic capital: Language as a socio-economic resource among Kurdish and Arabic women in Turkey,” ETHNIC AND RACIAL STUDIES, pp. 829–853, 2003, Accessed: 00, 2020. [Online]. Available: