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Migrants, Work and Social Inclusion

Final Report Summary - MIWSINC (Migrants, Work and Social Inclusion)

Project context

MIWSINC demonstrates that women have been the silent contributors to the expanding Turkish ethnic economy in the UK, and women's work in the ethnic economy and their role in social ties and networks on which this economy has risen preclude women’s social inclusion in the wider society. The agency of women in maintaining community networks and representing ethnic/national identity has been essential in the establishment and success of the Turkish ethnic economy, which has led to an increased emphasis on women's traditional gender roles as mothers and wives. This has resulted in women's isolation into small community circuits and disabled women's connections with the larger community.

Project results and conclusions

MIWSINC is the first comprehensive research study focusing on migrants' experience of the relationship between work, gender and social inclusion among the Turkish community in the UK. This has provided an insider view on inequalities in society and their consequences. The Turkish community has placed changing demands on female labour and women's role in the community, resulting in their exclusion from the larger mainstream society. MIWSINC highlights how inequalities are reproduced through social change as well as a focus on their economic and social consequences.

Our work has enabled us to achieve three main aims - empirical, analytical and theoretical - in the project:
-a) Fieldwork: interviews, case studies, focus group interviews, life histories have enabled the collection of rich, previously unpublished information on the first-generation migrants from the 'Turkish' community, such as personal accounts, narratives and case studies related to their experience of migration and their life in diaspora.
-b) The analysis of this data has been carried out from the migrants' perspective, with a focus on class, gender and ethnicity, as well from a comparative perspective of the work of other migrant groups in ethnic economies in Europe and the USA.
-c) By considering migrants’ views and experiences and their identity construction in their host society, MIWSINC brings a fresh vision and a new perspective to the theoretical approaches to migrants' social inclusion, whether or not their economic activities enable their inclusion in the host societies.

Project impact

The findings of this research have been distributed through two channels: one is the dissemination of results in lectures, seminars, international conferences and workshops, and journal articles. The results have also been transmitted via networking of institutions, researchers, experts, migrants and people in charge of migrant associations. The second channel is the ways in which the findings are shared with the community organisations such as Dialog society, Alevi Organisations and Day-Mer. The dissemination of the results will continue in the coming months and years as there are plans to share the findings further in academic conferences, publications - a book- and interactions with the civil society concerned with migrant communities in Europe.

The most important aim of the dissemination activities with community organisations has been mirroring the realities of the community and economic dynamism they have created in their living environment, and realisation of their contribution to their host society. The aim of going beyond the portrayal of migrants as victims, of creating something which corresponds more closely to the reality experienced by the migrants themselves, of changing their image within civil society and amongst the authorities and policy-makers has also given rise to contributions in the media and participation in public debate.

MIWSINC has contributed to studying the way in which Europe is being transformed from below as a result of migrations' economic activities and the ways in which they produce their own means of social inclusion in their host society. Gender has facilitated this transformation through the 'symbolic figuration' of identity of the community from Turkey. I emphasised this aspect of the project in three directions:
-a Completing the usual quantitative approach through collecting qualitative data related to the living experience, perception and representation of migrations and the discriminations and problems they experience;
-b Understanding how migrants perceive the relationship between their economic activities in the ethnic economy and their social inclusion and how these perceptions are gendered;
-c Improving the capacities of the various actors to work together, to share their knowledge in those actions aimed at dealing with questions impacting on migrants.