Navigating Precarious Labour Geographies in Turkey: Young Women in a Time of ‘Chronic’ Crisis

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Kara, Hilal
Feminist labour geography , Crisis , Waiting , Mobility , Social reproduction , Informality
This thesis explores gendered spatial and temporal labour strategies of young women, in places where standard employment was never the norm, when they negotiate the labour instabilities caused by neoliberal global markets and authoritarian pious politics of the state. Located at the intersection of labour geography and feminist political economy, I examine the relationship between rising levels of unemployment and precarity among tertiary educated youth and the reliance of states on a heteropatriarchal gender politics to resolve them. Describing Turkey’s governing strategy under the Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, the AKP), as authoritarian pious neoliberalism, I examine the impacts of this blend of authoritarian neoliberalism and Islamic piety on young people’s work lives and capacities to transition to adulthood. I argue that far from an economic success, the AKP state’s liberalization of the Turkish economy has been accompanied by rising levels of precarity that have hurt young people, women, and marginalized categories of workers the most. As a governing strategy, I argue that state efforts to produce a pious generation devoted to so-called ‘Turkish’ values can be also understood as a gendered labour strategy designed to obscure the failure of its free market economic strategy by scapegoating young women and marginalized workers. Drawing on qualitative interviews with young women, critical analyses of news articles, as well as statements by the state, I also argue that spaces of waiting and mobility, which are largely possible due to unpaid social reproductive work and informality, are mediums for young women to endure economic insecurities and social instabilities. While these spaces can be exploitative and obligatory, they enable marginalized youth to refuse state and market constructions of the acceptable worker/citizen and invent alternatives for a better future
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