Invisibility, struggle and visibility : women workers' strategies of survival in the informal sector

Ustek, Funda. 2015. Invisibility, struggle and visibility : women workers' strategies of survival in the informal sector. Doctoral thesis, University of Oxford [Thesis]

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Across the world, women constitute the bottom segments of the informal labour market hierarchy, and the story is no different for Turkish women, except they are further constrained by a patriarchal family culture and corporatist welfare state structure which favours high-skilled workers in full-time employment. A reading of the literature on the reasons for participating in the informal sector suggested that workers either end up in the informal sector as a result of structural factors, such as high unemployment, horizontal and vertical labour market discrimination and limited job opportunities for the low-skilled and low-educated, or they actively chose to participate in the labour market to seize the opportunities it provides, such as evading tax and/or bureaucratic costs, or testing out business ideas. However, this dichotomous understanding provided little scope, if any, to understand why women also entered the informal sector, in ever growing numbers and what the gender-specific constraints and opportunities in the informal sector are. Against this background, this thesis aims to show that this dichotomous theorisation of the informal sector is an exaggeration of reality, and that women workers position presents a middle ground, in which they recognise the constraints on their ability to improve their lives but they are also not powerless. Hence, by focusing on the variety of survival strategies used by women workers in the informal sector, the thesis attempts to show the choice among these strategies, including the conditions in which these strategies can be adopted and the barriers to do so.

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Thesis (Doctoral)

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9 April 2015

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Date Deposited:

25 May 2016 10:26

Last Modified:

07 Sep 2022 17:11


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