- Social exclusion and young Turkish-speaking people's future prospects: economic deprivation and the culturalisation of ethnicity
- Enneli, Pinar
- Bristol University
This chapter aims to analyse the relationship of Turkish-speaking young people to the labour market and considers their economic prospects by looking at the interplay between ethnicity and class in the UK context.
Fieldwork was conducted between 1997 and mid-1998 in the London boroughs of Haringey and Hackney, where the majority of the London Turkish-speaking community live. 206 interviews with a structured questionnaire were conducted [103 with girls and 103 with boys, aged mainly between 14 and 16], two focus group discussions were held and intensive observations and unstructured interviews were carried out with parents and teachers. The sample included Turkish-Cypriots, Turks, Kurdish refugees and those of mixed origin.
The majority of the Turkish-speaking community in London live in two of the most deprived boroughs in the UK, with little economic opportunity. Within the Turkish-speaking community, it is the Kurds who are the most economically deprived. In Haringey schools, three times as many Kurdish children are entitled to free school meals as Turkish-Cypriot children. Ethnic economic enclaves exist which present challenges to the children for their future employment prospects. These are largely based in the clothing industry and small shop-keeping. 78% of non-professional employees work for a Turkish-speaking employer; this increases to over 80% for Kurdish non-professional employees. Five main employment characteristics were observed in the Turkish-speaking community: high unemployment; high male self-employment; the small number of professional employees; the small number of women who are economically active; and the differences in trends between Turkish-speakers from the different locations. Unemployment amongst fathers was highest amongst the Kurds [44%] compared with 22% for Turks and 11% for Turkish Cypriots. 65% of mothers were unemployed; the figure was higher amongst Kurds. There are several reasons for this: most of the women are uneducated and cannot speak English; the women are dependent on jobs in the clothing industry, which pay such low wages that they cannot afford to pay for child care and other domestic responsibilities; there is an option to work from home, but this requires the women to own a sewing machine and to possess the necessary skills, which many of them do not.
32% of the young people in the sample worked part-time, and 64% of these worked during term-time. More boys than girls worked part-time, but girls had domestic responsibilities as well. The most significant determinant of whether young people have part-time jobs is the employment status of fathers. Self-employed fathers are particularly dependent on the labour of young people. More than half of the young people with self-employed fathers worked part-time. Children of unemployed or non-professional fathers rarely have part-time jobs.
Work Experience Schemes provide essential opportunities for young people to explore their professional ambitions, but Turkish-speaking young people often undertake their work experience in small shops which is typical of employment in the Turkish-speaking community [this is particularly the case for the Kurdish students]. The young people expressed ambition to continue their education, but still felt that they would end up with their parents' jobs.
Conclusions and recommendations
Employment opportunities for immigrant communities in developed market economies are restricted, and most immigrants are pushed into self-employment or informal community employment in ethnic enclave labour markets. Structural constraints interweaved with cultural factors result in the reproduction of class and ethnic differences. Educational policies must take into account the economic exclusion of Turkish-speaking communities in order to address their problems, to enable them to achieve their ambitions and not fall into the ethnic enclaves in which their parents work.
- Resource Type
- Chapter in book
- Contact Details
- in Ethnicity and Economy: 'Race and Class' Revisited eds. Fenton, Steve and Bradley, Harriet published by Palgrave Macmillan, Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire RG21 6XS