Money Makes Us Relatives: Women's Labor in Urban Turkey

Money Makes Us Relatives: Women's Labor in Urban Turkey

Money Makes Us Relatives: Women's Labor in Urban Turkey

Money Makes Us Relatives: Women's Labor in Urban Turkey

Synopsis

In the rural immigrant community of Istanbul, poor women spend up to fifty hours a week producing goods for export, yet deny that they actually 'work'. Money Makes Us Relatives asks why Turkish society devalues women's work, concealing its existence while creating a vast pool of cheap labor for the world market. Drawing on two years of ethnographic fieldwork among family producers and pieceworkers, and using fascinating case studies throughout, Jenny B. White shows how women's paid work is viewed in terms of kinship relations of reciprocity and obligation - an extension of domestic work for the family, which is culturally valued but poorly compensated. Whilst offering the benefits of social identity and long-term security, women's work also reflects global capitalism's ability to capture local cultural norms, and to use these to lower production costs and create exploitative conditions.This fully revised second edition includes a new introduction and conclusion, updated references, comparative material on women's labor elsewhere in the world, and brand new material on Islam, globalization, gender and Turkish family life. It is an important contribution to debates about women's participation in late global capitalism.

Excerpt

Unless one elects to create artificial boundaries-by studying one particular neighborhood, for instance-anthropological fieldwork in a large urban area can seem like counting grains of sand on a beach. Whenever one looks up from the particular task at hand, new vistas present themselves to be explored. Any description of the large and varied populations of cities must be the province of sampling and statistical extrapolation. Although this book is based on observations in many areas of Istanbul, it makes no attempt to represent either Turkish culture as a whole or Turkish urban culture. Rather, it is an attempt to make visible certain interconnections within the lives of urban dwellers who share characteristics of gender and class and who participate in some form of small-scale commodity production. Its project is to seek regularities within a variety of urban behavior, patterns in the sand that express the complex interactions of an environment's basic elements and that therefore can be found repeated on a number of different scales.

Just as any boundaries that I would draw in a city to define populations or communities would be artificial, structures and patterns discovered and observed in particular social contexts are also limited by the definition of that context. For instance, studies of exchange in marriage, a woman's life cycle in the family, or women's homework, while giving insight into those aspects of social life, restrict speculation to within the boundaries of their subject matter. These run the risk of becoming conceptual boundaries as well. in this book I shift the focus away from discrete relations between individuals and between defined groups to a web of simultaneous, multiple relations. I emphasize the interconnectedness of daily practice.

New conceptual tools are needed to represent such levels of complexity, while still being able to abstract dyadic and inter-group relations within specific contexts. Mutual indebtedness is one useful concept for understanding multiple relations within a group. During my fieldwork I quickly became aware that people tried to keep relations open-ended through the creation and maintenance of indebtedness. Mutual indebtedness provided the foundation for group membership and solidarity, whether that group was the family or the community of tradesmen. While the indebting interaction often

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.