Academic journal article Migration Letters

Social and Political Dimension of Stigmatization: The Development of Natasha and Maria Images for Immigrants in Istanbul 1

Academic journal article Migration Letters

Social and Political Dimension of Stigmatization: The Development of Natasha and Maria Images for Immigrants in Istanbul 1

Article excerpt


In general, migration towards Turkey in early 90s was mainly formed according to social, economic and political and such dynamics in both origin and destination countries like any other migratory movement worldwide. However, the effects of pull and push factors in the formation of the migration process has not been so simple and automatic as Ravenstein and Lee foresaw, therefore cannot simply be generalized by following their Migration Law approach. There are other multilayered and multi directional sub/processes in which the migration as a process has been substantially altered. The question whether migration is all about the outcome of social and cultural layers or it might be a twofold process that alters the social and cultural layers through perceptions in turn is still pending.

Here, we will analyse the pattern and dynamics of this construction partly by highlighting how the perception about and public visibility of migrants have been constructed as social or cultural layers at the end of 90s. In order to do that, we need to decompose the social or cultural layers beyond the very perception towards migrants since beliefs and attitudes continue to influence the meaning of stigma as we understand it in terms of our own culture and societal context (Whitehead et al., 2005). We further argue that perceptional factors that we are dealing with here have not only been formed by the social and cultural layers but also emerged as an invisible element of pressure in determination of state policies and their implementations. In turn, these discriminatory frameworks have likely posited a deterministic view of the individual actor in the face of cultural, social and official stigmatization respectively (Scimecca, 1977) and reshaped the migratory process. At the end of the circle, last but not least, the migratory process has likely been very decisive agent feeding the stigmatization negatively or positively towards ethic or ethnic division of labour in specific sectors. The findings reveal that while the public perception in Turkey has been one of the major exponents of the multi-layered relational migration model, official hegemonic framework in line with the mass and printed media2 has been invisibly considerable agent generating this perception and visibility.

Legal framework i.e. policies and implementations of law introduced by the state along with the images of migrants created through media (i.e., public perception) have caused the migrants to be subject to social, cultural and political stigmatization. In other words, migrants have been differentiated regardless of the pull-push factors first by ethnicity (as Turkish-origin Foreigner -TOF and non-Turkish)3 then by ethic in line with the state and media respectively. These stigmatizations for migrants have been legitimized, and in some points, turned to be part of daily life, namely a determinant in social and work relations. Therefore, migration to Turkey in early 90s cannot be discussed without taking into account the efforts for ethnic categorization by state, ethic classification by media, and creation of public perception as a result, which all together led to discrimination cyclically.

Here, we will attempt to understand how the perceptions about migrants have been created and transferred into daily life as social and cultural stigma by means of media and briefly what kind of consequences these perceptions and stigmatization might lead to in daily life4.

The findings have been based on field research carried out during 2005 in Istanbul Turkey. I have used nearly all qualitative and quantitative means of data collection from a multi-ethnographic perspective. All were in form of participant observation and unstructured interviews with a variety of people; migrant women workers (13), employers (7), all sort of agencies (4), state officials (2), persons who transport the IHSWs to the labour market (2), and the market place owner (1) in the district of Laleli. …

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