Osman Savaşkan / Contemporary Social Policy in Turkey: Workfare Programs in the Context of the Neo-liberal International Governance System

An abstract of the thesis of Osman Savaskan for the degree of Master of Arts degree from the Atatürk Institute for Modern Turkish History to be taken September 2007

Contemporary Social Policy in Turkey: Workfare Programs in the Context of the Neo-liberal International Governance System

This thesis focuses on the workfare programs which came onto the agenda of Turkey after 1999 Marmara earthquake and 2001 economic crisis as one of the strategies to struggle against poverty in parallel to the approaches of international organizations such as the World Bank. Workfare programs, by improving the employability of the poor and facilitating their access to the credit mechanisms, make the poor actors in market. In this way, market is presented as if it is an effective mechanism for poverty alleviation programs, and this causes market conditions creating poverty to remain unquestioned. Attempts to integrate the poor into the market also redefines social policy via poverty alleviation programs in a way in which social policy puts market at the center of the lives of the poor in a manner which reinforces the neo-liberal hegemony.

In the thesis, workfare programs in Turkey are discussed over the three interrelated basic points, by taking into consideration the international neo-liberal social policy environment. First while examining workfare programs; the reflection on Turkey of the transition from welfare to workfare state is taken into account. Secondly the nature of the cooperation between social policy actors in conducting workfare programs is examined. Within the context of international neo-liberal governance system, international organizations, state and voluntary organizations come together on the basis of cooperation; but this sort of cooperation, taking the social policy area out of the politics, causes the issue to be dealt with in a technical way like just carrying out the programs. Finally it is examined to what kind of labor markets employability training courses and self-employment programs, among workfare programs, strive to integrate the poor. The basic starting point here is to challenge the ignorance of ‘working poor’ category through which poverty and unemployment are taken as the same. Consequently workfare programs function to reinforce the hegemony of market in social policy area rather than becoming an effective way for poverty alleviation by ignoring the labor market conditions.

Atatürk Ilkeleri ve Inkilap Tarihi Enstitüsü’nde Yüksek Lisans derecesi için Osman Savaskan tarafindan Eylül 2007’de teslim edilen tezin kisa özeti

Türkiye’de Güncel Sosyal Politika: Uluslar arasi Neo-liberal Yönetisim Sistemi Baglaminda “Workfare” Programlari

Bu tez 1999 Marmara depremi ve 2001 ekonomik kriz sonrasi Dünya bankasi gibi uluslar arasi örgütlerin yaklasimina paralel olarak Türkiye’de gündeme gelen yoksullukla mücadele stratejilerinden “workfare” programlari üzerinde odaklanmaktadir. “Workfare” programlari, yoksullarin istihdam edilebilirliliklerini artirarak ve kredi mekanizmalarina ulasmalarini kolaylastirarak yoksullari piyasadabirer aktör haline getirmektedir. Böylelikle piyasa, yoksullukla mücadele programlari için etkili bir mekanizma olarak sunulmakta, bu da yoksullugu bizzat yaratan piyasanin sorgulanmamasina neden olmaktadir. Yoksullari piyasaya baglamaya çalismak, ayni zamanda yoksullukla mücadele programlari üzerinden sosyal politikayi yeniden tanimlamakta, sosyal politika neo-liberal hegemonyayi pekistirecek sekilde piyasayi yoksullarin hayatinda merkezi bir yere tasimaktadir.Tezde Türkiye’deki “workfare” programlari, uluslar arasi neo-liberal sosyal politika ortami göz önünde tutularak birbiriyle iliskili üç temel nokta üzerinden tartisilmaktadir. Ilk olarak, “workfare” programlari degerlendirilirken refah devletinden istihdam devletine geçisin Türkiye’deki yansimasi göz önünde tutulacaktir.