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Mothers ’ perceptions towards child education and child labor in an urban low-income Kurdish migrant community in Turkey Ozge Sensoy Bahar University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign ([email protected]).

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Mothers’ perceptions towards child education and child labor in an urban low-income Kurdish migrant community in TurkeyOzgeSensoyBahar University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign ([email protected])

guiding question
Guiding Question
  • What are low-income Kurdish mothers’ beliefs on child labor, and child education, and how does gender play a role?
  • Theoretical framework: Parental ethnotheories(Harkness & Super, 1996)
  • Methodological approach: Ethnographic (Miller, Hengst, & Wang, 2003)
  • Setting: Sultan neighborhood of Istanbul
  • Sampling strategy

- Purposive sampling

- Snowball sampling

  • Data collection

-demographic survey

-in-depth interviews (2 to 11 hours)

-participant observations

  • Sample: 28 low-income Kurdish mothers

- mean age: 33.5

-poverty levels: (poverty level for a family of 4 reported in September 2011 is 2,900 TL [TURK_IS,2011])

lowest: 300 TL ($180) for a family of 9

highest: 3,000 TL ($1800) for a family of 8

- only 1 elementary school graduate, 3 had some elementary


- mean number of years in Istanbul: 14

- median number of kids per family: 4 (1 to 9)

- mean age of kids: 10.2

preliminary findings
Preliminary Findings


“I want my children to become something, to have a profession”

-For both girls and boys, education ensured they would not be “ignorant” like their parents

-For both girls and boys, higher education meant a better and more financially secure future

For girls specifically:

- Even more important for girls, because when they are educated they will be more likely to be respected by husband and in-laws

- Only one mother thought her daughter did not need to go beyond middle school

preliminary findings1
Preliminary findings


  • “I will do everything possible for them to continue after middle school. But if we don’t have the financial means, we may not send them to school”
  • “If they are good students, they will continue their education. If they are not, what’s the purpose of sending them?”
  • “It is up to them to decide whether they want to continue after middle school. I can’t oblige them”
preliminary findings2
Preliminary findings


- 6 mothers said “We will never send them to work before age 18”

- 1o mothers said “If they are good students, we will do all we can to keep them in school”

- 7 mothers said “If they don’t go to school, they will work”

- 6 mothers said “I want them to have an education, but if our family can’t get by, we will send them to work”

- 5 mothers said “We will only send them to work during the summer”

-10 mothers said “They can start working after the age of 15” (including only during the summer)

preliminary findings3
Preliminary Findings


Child Labor and Gender

-Of the 15 mothers who were open to send their children to work, 5 said they would NOT send their daughters to work

preliminary findings4
Preliminary Findings


Alternative explanations to child labor

-When they don’t go to school during the summer (or if they dropped out of school), they will work so that they can’t hang out with bad people (criminals)

-I want them to get used to working and understand how hard making money is

-If they work now, they will be more disciplined

-I believe they will appreciate school more when they see how hard it is to work

  • Harkness, S., & Super, C. M. (1996). Parents’ cultural belief systems: Their origins, expressions, and consequences. NY: Guilford Press.
  • Miller, P. J., Hengst, J. A., Wang, S-H. (2003). Ethnographic methods: Applications from developmental cultural psychology. In P. M. Camic, J. E. Rhodes, & L. Yardley (Eds.). Qualitative research in psychology: Expanding perspectives in methodology and design (Pp. 219-242). Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.
  • TURK_IS (2011), Eylul 2011 AclikveYoksullukSiniri. Retrieved from index.snet?wapp=52521E5F-FCA5-4BDD-940D-A284DA6F151D&catCode=gida