Making Money, Making Home: Household Economic Strategies of Syrian Refugees in Istanbul

The on-going war in Syria has been forcing many families to leave (either altogether or as several family members) Syria for abroad. In the context of forced migration this project looks at how Syrian refugee families sharing the same household in Istanbul re-organize their individual and collective economic activities and decisions under radical uncertainty. A complementary dimension of research is the impact of these changes on particular family relations (such as husband-wife; father-son; mother-daughter) and social relations in general. In this study the families’ economic activities refer to the creative use of household labour, trade relations, marriage exchange, transfer of money within or between households, and fertility decisions. Furthermore, experiences and perceptions of politics and economy in Istanbul may also transform existing family values, economic activities and decision-making processes when compared to the livelihood and everyday life before migration.

Similar to other war migrants, many Syrian families experience various forms of sudden disempowerment such as social, economic, political and cultural. The level of disempowerment, its continuity or its conversion to empowerment, may depend on a variety of dynamics such as personality, age, gender, or the time period the family stayed in the same place. The families’ household economic activities will be followed in the course of a one-year fieldwork in Istanbul neighbourhoods which are closely located to İkitelli, Turkey’s largest industrial zone. The study is mainly based on ethnographic fieldwork in combination with a small sized survey.

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