Gender inequality, the welfare state, disability, and distorted commodification of care in Turkey


New Perspectives on Turkey, vol.66, pp.61-87, 2022 (SSCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 66
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1017/npt.2020.35
  • Journal Name: New Perspectives on Turkey
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, International Bibliography of Social Sciences, ABI/INFORM, American History and Life, Historical Abstracts, Index Islamicus, Political Science Complete, Public Affairs Index, Sociological abstracts, Worldwide Political Science Abstracts
  • Page Numbers: pp.61-87
  • Keywords: Care work, Disability, Gender inequality, Social policy, Welfare state
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


Reforming care regimes to cover the care deficit and enhancing the marketization of care to promote individualism and gender equality have been on the European agenda since the 1990s. However, both implementation and results have been path-dependent. This study first underlines some specificities in the Turkish case - namely, the limited welfare state, a large shadow economy, gender roles, patriarchal backlash, Islamization, and neoliberalism, all of which receive little treatment in the welfare state literature. It then analyzes how these specificities interact in the construction of the care regime in Turkey, conceptualizing the outcome as distorted commodification of care - namely, the continuing ambiguity of care services despite these activities producing precarity and positional suffering for caregivers and recipients. Finally, the study provides concrete examples from the less studied topic of long-term disability care. It presents a perspective on Turkey that foregrounds the connections between gendered care imagery and case-specific qualities of the commodification of care shaped by the long-standing shadow economy, the outsourcing of disability services to for-profit private companies, and the introduction of the cash-for-care policy. The study analyzes the outcomes of distorted commodification of care under these conditions in Turkey vis-à-vis visibility, valuation of work, working conditions, and gender inequality.