Reframing bureaucracy through a familialist perspective: the public women's shelters in Turkey
Berna Ekal (Istanbul Altinbas University)
Paper short abstract:
Drawing on ethnographic data in public women’s shelters in contemporary Turkey, this paper investigates the everyday relationships of employees to the residents of shelters. It argues that in the functioning of shelters, the bureaucratic relationships are reframed through a familialist perspective.
Paper long abstract:
Women's shelters are usually run by NGO's and funded by public authorities ever since the problematization of violence against women by the feminist movements all around the world. However, in Turkey, partly because of the unwillingness of authorities to allocate funding to autonomous shelters, partly as feminists' claim that they should not be treated as social workers of the state, the establishing and running of women's shelters came to be considered as the duty of public authorities (i.e. municipalities and social services of the central state). Hence, apart from one NGO shelter, it has been the public authorities that run all the women's shelters in the country. Drawing on ethnographic data in public women's shelters, this paper puts forward that on the one hand, as a consequence of the establishment of women's shelters as public institutions, women come to consider themselves as taken care of by the state. In this sense, the state, an abstract category, becomes concrete through everyday practices, as the literature on anthropology of the state also argues. On the other hand, the paper shows that for the employees as well, the family terms can be used as a legitimization for controlling and disciplining women in the institutions. Therefore this paper investigates the everyday relationships of employees (or in other terms, street-level bureaucrats) to the residents of shelters to show how bureaucratic relationships are reframed through a familialist perspective and how the state becomes concrete through these relations.
The anthropology of public services and bureaucracies