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A Look at the ‘Hidden Side’: Turkish Women in Berlin’s Ethnic Labour Market


  • Felicitas Hillman


Recent studies show that ethnic economies are an increasingly vital part of the larger national economy. This is especially true in the case of the Turkish ethnic economy in Germany. This article sheds light on a ‘hidden aspect’ of Berlin’s Turkish ethnic economy: the structure and role of Turkish female labour and female self‐employment. It begins with a general discussion on the significance of the gender concept in the international debate on ethnic economies – including findings on minority and immigrant women in self‐employment in Europe. The second section of the article focuses on Berlin, using an analysis of the official labour market data at hand to sketch the gendered structure of Berlin’s labour market. The third section presents exploratory empirical data concentrating exclusively on female Turkish entrepreneurs and employees. The results indicate that some of the gendered traits of the ethnic economies described in the international literature also appear in the Berlin survey: the under‐representation of women as entrepreneurs and their difficult position in the overall labour market. Furthermore, the data suggest that the concept of ‘ethnic business’ as typically presented in the literature turns out to be a ‘male’ concept and is hardly applicable to the case of the Turkish women in Berlin. The common features of the concept (ethnic clientele, suppliers, labour or involved kin, orientation towards the ethnic community) applied only partially to the Turkish women entrepreneurs. — Des études récentes ont démontré que les économies ethniques sont une partie de plus en plus vitale de l’économie nationale. Ceci est particulièrement vrai dans le cas de l’économie ethnique turque en Allemagne. Cet article explore un ‘aspect caché’ de l’économie ethnique turque à Berlin: la structure et le rôle de la main d’oeuvre féminine turque et des femmes travailleuses indépendantes turques. Il commence par une discussion générale sur la signification du concept du genre dans le débat international sur les économies ethniques – y compris les données concernant les travailleuses indépendantes immigrantes et de minorité ethnique en Europe. La seconde partie de l’article est consacrée à Berlin, et donne un aperçu de la structure du marché du travail de Berlin par rapport au genre grâce à une analyse des données disponibles du travail officiel. La troisième section présente des données empiriques exploratoires concernant les employées et les femmes entrepreneurs turques exclusivement. Les résultats indiquent que certains des traits de genre des économies ethniques décrits dans les bibliographies internationales se retrouvent dans l’enquête sur Berlin: la sous‐représentation des femmes entrepreneurs et leur position difficile dans le marché du travail dans son ensemble. De plus, les données suggèrent que le concept de ‘commerce ethnique’, comme il est habituellement présenté dans les travaux sur ce sujet, est un concept ‘masculin’ et qui ne peut guère ?tre appliqué au cas des femmes turques de Berlin. Les points communs du concept (la clientèle ethnique, les fournisseurs ethniques, la place de la famille ou des employés ethniques, une orientation vers la communauté ethnique) ne s’appliquent que partiellement aux femmes entrepreneurs turques.

Suggested Citation

  • Felicitas Hillman, 1999. "A Look at the ‘Hidden Side’: Turkish Women in Berlin’s Ethnic Labour Market," International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 23(2), pages 267-282, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:ijurrs:v:23:y:1999:i:2:p:267-282
    DOI: 10.1111/1468-2427.00195

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    Cited by:

    1. Chreim, Samia & Spence, Martine & Crick, David & Liao, Xiaolu, 2018. "Review of female immigrant entrepreneurship research: Past findings, gaps and ways forward," European Management Journal, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 210-222.
    2. Tüzin Baycan-Levent & Peter Nijkamp, 2011. "Migrant Female Entrepreneurship: Driving Forces, Motivation and Performance," Chapters, in: Sameeksha Desai & Peter Nijkamp & Roger R. Stough (ed.), New Directions in Regional Economic Development, chapter 10, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    3. Eric Crettaz, 2011. "Why Are Immigrants and Ethnic Minorities more Affected by Working Poverty? Theoretical Framework and Empirical Evidence Across Welfare Regimes," LIS Working papers 564, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.

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