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Models of care: the politics of intergenerational obligation in the New Turkey

  • Author(s): DeLuca, Ann Elizabeth
  • Advisor(s): Kim, Eleana;
  • Zhan, Mei
  • et al.

This ethnography illustrates how a wide range of stakeholders in Turkey participated in and contested the marketization of care for older adults during a time of political transformation and uncertainty. I approach state-led efforts to develop a model of care suitable for Turkey by analyzing the ways these models were negotiated through situated relationships of caregiving in two distinct sites: 1) municipal care programs for older adults and 2) skilled care work, which was being increasingly professionalized and subject to government regulation. This work asks two main sets of questions. First, how are models of care forged and negotiated? How do experts and state officials negotiate these models in relation to understandings of the family, state, and market? What key themes and elements of care are debated, what kinds of arrangements emerge from these discussions and which are excluded? Second, how do different stakeholders (such as families, older adults, caregivers, and local municipal officials) experience and participate in the formalization of care as a marketized service?

To investigate these questions, I engaged in 21 months of ethnographic research based in the cities of Istanbul and Eskişehir from 2014 through 2017 in networks of gerontological expertise, municipal care programs, and private homes. I found that technopolitical efforts to formalize care for older adults were fraught achievements forged through situated social and political relationships of caregiving. While the government rhetoric of sacred familialism emphasizes the duty of kin, government development efforts simultaneously forge the necessary infrastructure to marketize and formalize care as a private commodity that will benefit the national economy. This ethnography widens anthropological understandings of care beyond social reproduction by emphasizing care as comprised of complex technopolitical processes that marketize care in a global context, processes characterized by negotiations of access, responsibility, domestic arrangements, financing, scale of administration, and professionalization. Moreover, it reveals the importance of municipal programs of care and assistance in the creation and maintenance of political authority and legitimacy in a time of political transformation and turmoil.

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