Precariat or Proletariat: The Changing Structure of Labour in Turkey

Saturday, 4 July 2015: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
TW2.2.04 (Tower Two)
Miris Meryem Kurtulmus, MARMARA UNIVERSITY, ISTANBUL, Turkey
The aim of this study is to calculate the percentage of precarious working class in Turkey, being aware of that precariat is not a “new class”. Class analysis of people living in a certain society should be done according to their role in production not according to their income levels, consumption patterns, or precariousness. Classes are defined according to their location in the social production and social reproduction. Place in the social production is determined basically by the control over the means of production, ownership of the means of production. The concept of the working class, based on lack of means of production, obligation to sell its labour power under an economic force, and the labor power to be used by someone else, that is exploitation.

So in the first part of the study the concepts of proletariat and precariat will be defined. Then the increasing proletariatisation trend in Turkey will be set forth. The share of wage, salaried and casual labour, forming the basis of the working class, in total employment is constantly increasing over time in Turkey. It is reached to 64.1% in 2013 from 27.6% in 1970. Paid and casual (16.3 million) employees constitute more than half of all employment. We can easily say that working class consist the majority of the total working population in Turkey.

We can’t talk about precariat as a “new class” but we can talk about precarious proletariat. The changing structure of labour in Turkey shows that precarious employment forms are increasing. The share of informal employment in total employment is 40% and it is 50% in establishments employing less than 50 people. Employment tends to rise continuously in the services sector, white-collar and service sector workers make up the majority of the working class and are becoming increasingly important. 586 thousand public and 420 thousand private sectors workers, totalling to 1 million people work sub-contracting works at the end of 2012. Period between 1 July 2009 and December 2012 in the number of contract workers in the public sector has been an increase by 335%. Also we have to consider the women employment and migrant workers in this framework.

In this paper we aim to critically evaluate the argument that “precariat is a new dangerous class”, to reveal the material existence, quantitative and qualitative profile and the changing structure of  labour in Turkey.

 *M. Meryem Kurtulmus is PhD in the Faculty of Economics, Department of Labour Economics and Industrial Relations, Marmara University. Correspondence should be addressed to M.Meryem Kurtulmus, Marmara Universitesi Iktisat Fakültesi, Calisma Ekonomisi ve Endüstri Iliskileri Bolumu, Goztepe Kampusu, 34722 Kadikoy -Istanbul-TURKEY; email: