Turkish Social Work Sector After the 1990s through the Accounts of Social Workers

Ayşecan Kartal
Bogazici University Atatürk Institute for Modern Turkish History
Graduation Date: 
Ayşe Buğra
Turkish Social Work Sector After the 1990s through the Accounts of Social Workers

This study scrutinizes the state-civil society partnerships in the Turkish Social Services Sector after the 1990s. This approach is embraced in Turkey paralel to the approaches of the international organizations such as the World Bank. In this new model, state is one of the partners rather than a regulator who provide public services. In Europe this new model of welfare meant the de-structration of an existing welfare system. However Turkish social policy environment in general and the Turkish social services understanding in particular had a different structre than Europe. The Turkish social work sector since its early days in early Twentieth Century was considered to be within the realm of the civil society and voluntariness. This new welfare model is integrated into the existing structure of SHÇEK as a startegy to cope with the new poverty. Consequently, new social services institutions were established through protocols signed between the NGOs and SHÇEK. Society Centers which is the focus of this study is one of those institutions. These are institutions of SHÇEK established in 1993 with an aim to ease the integration of migrants in urban areas, through projects that will be cnducted jointly with NGOs. The primary source of this study is the in-depth interviews conducted with the social workers and SHÇEK administrators . The social workers interviewed were employed in Society Centers.The interviews were analyzed from two different lines. First, the ways in which the social workers perceive the bureaucratic structure of the institution is discussed. Second, the ways in which they perceive to work together with the NGOs and volunteers is discussed. The emphasis is on how Project-mode of service provision influence the ways they perceive their job. This study argues that discomfort of the social workers, manifested as the loss of institutinal trust and not being able to define their role in the institution, is not resulting from a new structure within the institution, rather it is the new form of poverty they try to respond with the vaguely defined borders between the state and the civil society.