What is work? On the invisibility of women's paid work in the informal sector

Ustek, Funda. 2015. What is work? On the invisibility of women's paid work in the informal sector. InterDisciplines, 6(1), pp. 29-58. ISSN 2191-6721 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

»Work« is broadly defined in the literature as effort resulting in some product or service in exchange for payment or in-kind payment. However women’s labor force participation often remains under-reported in official statistics. Based on fieldwork in Istanbul, Turkey, this article presents the discrepancies between common sense notions of »work« and women workers’ subjective interpretations of their paid work in the informal sector as »non-work«. This discrepancy raises important questions about gendered segregation of labor markets, and about women’s status in society in general. I argue that this discrepancy also contributes to women workers’ invisibility in official statistics. The article contributes to theorization on the under-reporting of women’s paid work in official statistics by demonstrating the ambivalent patterns of female identities within the gendered economy of global markets.

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informal sector, gender, official statistics, invisibility, women workers, Turkey, work, labour

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22 September 2015Published

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Date Deposited:

25 Sep 2015 08:30

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:11

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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