Accepted Paper:

A day at the park? The migrant domestic workers in Turkey on their days off  


Ayse Akalin (Istanbul Technical University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper is going to look at the relationship between certainty and uncertainty, whether they are actually opposites or have some kind of a role in constituting one another, by looking at the role 'the day off'' plays in the structuring of the migrant domestic workers market in Turkey.

Paper long abstract:

Since the second half of the 1990's, Turkey has started receiving irregular migration of women from various former socialist countries. Women from Moldova, Ukraine, Romania, Georgia and Bulgaria as well as Central Asian states have been migrating to Turkey to work in the domestic labor sector. Migrant domestics in Turkey work mostly as live-in caregivers for children and the elderly. Their contract usually allows them to take a day off every week which is not only when they get together with their friends and relatives but also when they can act like themselves again as opposed to performing the persona of the (docile, submissive or maternal, among others) domestic worker at work. This difference between the way they are on work days and on their days off is crucial since domestic work is one of the few professions in which it is the personality of the workers that becomes the very commodity that is bought and exchanged. This paper is going to talk about the meaning of taking a full day off in a profession that is formed by the identity of migrancy and the availability of live-in labor. Is "the day off" a rupture in the life at home where these workers live and work or is it in fact an aspect that prolongs the constituting elements of the market? How do employers and migrants themselves perceive and position "the day off" in their lives? What role does it play in the structuring of the migrant domestic workers market overall?

Panel W058
Moral journeys: manifestations of certainty and uncertainty across Europe