Feminization of Labour and Immaterial Labour in Turkey

Wednesday June 15, 2016 | 1:00PM- 2:30PM | S701 Ross Building


Esra Sarioglu Ankara Univeristy Turkey

E Sarioglu image

This presentation examines uncharted dynamics of feminization of labor in Turkey in the context of globalization. Drawing upon ethnographic fieldwork on saleswomen in Istanbul, Dr. Sarioglu highlights how gendered dynamics of immaterial labor in Turkey’s service-based economy has prompted a change in working class subjectivities as well as gendered organization of the workplace. To better identify these changes, Dr. Sarioglu employs the concept of the cultural politics of aesthetics and sexuality at work. The cultural politics of aesthetics builds on and extends the notion of aesthetic labor, which points out that immaterial labor is intimately linked to worker’s habitus. Cultural politics of sexuality, on the other hand, refers to the gendered organization of work which is embedded with particular meanings and norms of sexualized behavior, gendered interactions, and even language forms emerging from the workplace. The concept of the cultural politics of aesthetics and sexuality allow us to examine not only the feminine working class subjectivities, tied to a particular habitus, emerging with the expansion of the service economy, but also the new cultural politics of sexuality at the workplace in Turkey under global restructuring.


Esra Sarioglu received her Ph.D. in Sociology at SUNY-Binghamton and is currently an Assistant Professor in the Gender Studies Division, in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration, Ankara University, Turkey. Her primary research areas are gender and labor in global era. She is particularly interested in examining how the global economy interacts with social constructions of gender and gender hierarchies. Esra’s ethnographic research projects focus on Turkey, where women’s labor force participation rates are low by international standards, even when compared to other countries at similar levels of economic development, engaging with the literature on the feminization of labor. These projects have focused in particular on working class women, such as home-based workers and saleswomen in relation to questions of the cultural politics of sexuality and aesthetics at work as well as the constitution of self and subjectivity at the intersection of class and gender. Esra’s scholarly articles have been published in Gender, Work & Organization and Women’s Studies International Forum.

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Audio | Sarioglu