Visible Hands À“ Invisible Women: Garment production in Turkey

Date: August 3, 2011
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The economic liberalization policies that started in the early 1980s marked a turn in Turkey’s growth strategy by shifting it from import substitution to export orientation. Since then, the garment industry has been one of the top exporters, drawing on women as the main suppliers of informal labour for the industry through subcontracted and home-based piecework. Based on fieldwork, this paper examines the gender inequalities that underlie the export success of the garment industry, in which the organization of production and workplace relations embed and reproduce gender ideology and norms. Women’s engagement in garment production is ensured through the articulation of women’s subordinate position with the social organization of garment production and the mobilization of kinship relations. The continued expansion of garment exports and the ongoing informalization of non agricultural employment, according to official estimates, suggest that these arrangements are becoming more extensive over time.

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