Stepping into a new struggle: low-SES divorced single mothers’ experiences in relation to family resources and social policies in Turkey

Thesis Type: Postgraduate

Institution Of The Thesis: Middle East Technical University, Turkey

Approval Date: 2018

Thesis Language: English

Student: Merve Umay Kader



As they are consistently defined as one of the most vulnerable social groups, this study aimed to explore low-educated and low-income divorced single mothers’ pre- and post-divorce cultural, social and financial family resources to understand whether Turkey’s social policies based on gender egalitarian norms and whether they encourage women to form and maintain an autonomous household. In line with these objectives, by using a qualitative research design, twenty in-depth interviews were conducted with low income divorced single mothers who have at least one dependent child and living in Ankara. Mothers’ answers to semi-structured interview questions revealed that Turkey’s social policies are highly inadequate even for the most vulnerable social group to be able to maintain a living in minimum standards. Although mothers stated that they enjoy the freedom in the post-divorce period, want to stand on their own feet and to have their own autonomous households, it is found out that familialist nature of Turkey’s social policies prevent them from doing so and make them even more vulnerable. Findings are discussed in light of the gender analysis of social policy literature and social policy recommendations are made based on participants’ own perception of autonomy and the demands for assistance. At the end, social policy recommendations were to provide; (1) informed legal process, (2) guaranteed alimony and compensation payment, (3) safer litigation process, (4) public childcare facilities, (5) income and job security, (6) basic income by targeting divorced single mothers living with dependent children.