Subjectivity formation of working class women and respectability: A case study on women sales workers in Ankara

Thesis Type: Postgraduate

Institution Of The Thesis: Orta Doğu Teknik Üniversitesi, Faculty of Economic and Administrative Sciences, Department of Political Science and Public Administration, Turkey

Approval Date: 2014




The main aim of this thesis is to examine the role of class and gender in the subjectivity formation of working class women. Women from different classes encounter each other in situations such as customers and sales workers in the shopping environment. Examining this encounter in detail can assist in achieving the main of this study. Therefore, during the in-depth interviews with women sales workers that were conducted, it was seen that many of the women sales workers experience class and gender inequalities as pejorative experiences. In addition, it was understood that respectability is a major issue in the lives of these women. Many of the interviewed sales workers face disrespectful behaviour in their daily lives, and think that other people did not consider them to be respectable. However, since they wish to be recognized as respectable and valuable they invest on certain capitals and as well as behaving in a way they consider will bring them respectability and value. For example, the sales worker tries to hide her poverty, which she considers a reason why she does not receive respect and to counteract this she attempts to emulate middle class behaviour. In addition, the sales worker invests in her appearance, aims to make a good marriage, and become a good mother and housewife. Furthermore, the interviews show that these women question the inequalities they experience, and even if they are trying to become respectable by following the rules of the capitalist patriarchal system that already subordinates them, they do not totally accept these norms and from time to time they create their own value systems against these norms. This struggle of these women to gain the respectability that they are denied, offers the hope that there will be social transformation rather than a continuation of the existing hierarchical systems.