In this paper, I would like to examine neoliberalism and its effects on labor; particularly invisible women labor of Turkey, Istanbul starting with 1990s. I argue that neoliberalism seeking profit maximization in a perfect market led economy has several destructive results on labor in developing countries like Turkey since they do not have appropriate regulatory mechanisms but have eagerness to gain more at the expense of their citizens’ rights and even lives. With the help of neoliberal policies informalization of labor became a reality and flexible working forms take place in order to gain smallest amount of money. Women who live in the subsistence level became transparent in the street. Keywords: invisible labor, neoliberalism, flexibility, informalization.
Women work, but they cannot take what they deserved since they are actually invisible. Female workers are counted as informal, invisible work force since globalization has come with neoliberal policies and took away their chances to be equal in the working place, in the papers of social security and in the eyes of their husbands. Neoliberalism and globalization has changed working patterns of Fordist Era by introducing flexibility, easy hiring and firing mechanisms, subcontracted labors and so on. By doing so, they marginalized female work force, and pushed them away from descent wage labor status if they are not educated. As mothers and daughters who have to bring money to home, women accepted this position and bear the costs of them. Invisible female labor activities are diverse especially in global cities. As stated by Sassen (2008: 64), immigrant women live in bad conditions to take care children or dogs of professional women in those cities. Women started to migrate, became nannies, housekeepers, sent money to their homes within their survival circuits; and hence global cities became new places of low paid, subcontracted women workers’ survival attempts take place. Sassen correctly explained this by saying: “Globalization has greatly increased the demand in global cities for low- wage workers to fill jobs that offer few advancement possibilities” (2008: 62-63). As one of the big global cities, Istanbul in Turkey also witnesses invisible female labor activities such as housekeeping, babysitting, small atelier production, house-based production of decorative items, cloths and so on. Peck, Nik and Brenner (2009: 110) assert that together with the introduction of neoliberal practices like deregulation, labor flexibilization, privatization and trade liberalization, the world has faced the danger of multi-front war. And I think invisible labor issue is one of these fronts that is ready to explode, so in this paper I would like to show detrimental effects of neoliberalism in the informalization of especially female labor in global cities. By doing that in the 1st part of paper, I will talk about neoliberalism and some specific features of it, in the 2nd part I will focus on the link between neoliberal globalization and the labor activities and in the 3rd part I will explain female workers and their working patterns, the conditions that make them invisible in detail. In the end I will present my findings and summarize what I wrote briefly. In this context - especially in the 3rd part - while talking about invisible labor practices, my primary focus area is Istanbul and the time is 1990s and 2000s generally. THEORATICAL CHARACTER OF NEOLIBERALISM
In his book A Brief History of Neoliberalism, David Harvey defines neoliberalism as “a theory of political economic practices that proposes that human well being can best be advanced by liberating individual entrepreneurial freedoms and skills within a institutional framework characterized by strong private property rights, free markets and free trade”(2005:2). State must just establish necessary mechanisms and structures so that the market could function on its own. In this sense, I can say that...
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