Ethnic Discrimination Case Study: Kurdish and Syrian Workers Struggle in the Turkish Manufacturing Industry 2012-2014.

Thursday, 2 July 2015: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
TW1.3.03 (Tower One)
Asli Kayhan, Academic, Kocaeli, Turkey
Since the 1980’s global manufacturing production has transitioned from a regulated Taylorist system to flexible production processes within a neoliberal system. In Turkey, flexible production processes were established via discriminative ideology, encouraging competition and division among workers; stages of production were separated and labour organised to eliminate opportunities for basic communication and solidarityThis study aims to qualitatively assess the interpersonal ethnic relationships between Kurdish and Syrian employees under neo-liberal arrangements for flexible labour markets in the Turkish manufacturing sector. The research method for this study used in-depth interviews and focus groups based on a semi-structured form. Covering ten cities across Turkey, interviews were conducted with 186 workers and focus groups with 404 workers. Locations were selected based on the economic development of manufacturing activities within the region, as well as migration volume. Results indicate that the combination of flexible labour markets and elevated Kurdish and Syrian migration has significantly impacted the interpersonal relationships of manufacturing workers in Turkey. With an oversaturated labour market accelerating competition and depressing wages, an increasing hostility has emerged between the individual ethnic groups–each blaming the other for competitive pressures destabilising the manufacturing sector. While prior research has focused on the impact of mass migration on economic structures, little attention has been paid to the effects of ethnic discrimination on worker ideology, attitudes, and relationships. This study assesses the sociological response of immigration in one of Turkey’s largest and most developed industries. Specifically, this study offers new ethnologic research regarding the impacts of inequality and discrimination in the labour force, including how workers process discrimination and adjust to lifestyle changes resulting from discriminatory events.