Refugee admission, at what cost to Turkish society? The limits of closed forms of political community in the provision of asylum

Author: Eleanor Lewis

Lewis, Eleanor, 2021 Refugee admission, at what cost to Turkish society? The limits of closed forms of political community in the provision of asylum, Flinders University, College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

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The evolution of the international protection regime in response to mass migrations since the Second World War has sustained the scholarly interest in human rights in the interdisciplinary field of Refugee Studies. Myriad countries, notably in Europe, have borne the impacts of mass-scale people movement, which have seen to permanent demographic shifts in the composition of societies with respect to culture, ethnicity, fertility rate and political ideology. Studies on the effects of migration primarily focus on the loss and gain of labour, skilled workers, and capital for the countries of origin and destination countries, specifically in terms of labour market needs and integration. However, there remains to be a gap in the scholarly evaluation of the impacts of migration on society at large in the Development Studies field of literature. With reference to this thesis, the impact of irregular migration is the phenomenon in question. Impacts are yet to be analysed using concepts of human security and political community in relation to the host or receiving society experience. Put simply, the social experiences of hosts, in their interaction with migrant populations are by and large, neglected in the literature. For this reason, there is an opportunity to proceed with inquiry into this subject, specifically to explore how the experiences of both parties in coexistence are not mutually exclusive, and further, how cohabitation can manifest into situations of illbeing across the board and political destabilisation. The purpose of this thesis is to examine Turkey’s contemporary threshold, as a host nation, for absorbing the Syrian refugees, without endangering social cohesion within its political community. To do so, the thesis will employ the analytical prisms of International Development in asking the following question: refugee admission, at what cost to society? To answer this question, the author employs the frame of human security and other key concepts in development studies thinking, to explain modern-day human vulnerabilities in the humanitarian, albeit unconventional refugee setting—the urban setting—in Turkey. The author finds that extending refuge to new arrivals has caused socioeconomic redistribution, has fuelled host grievances towards refugees, and ultimately, has led to a breakdown of social cohesion in Turkish society, based on the following arguments: development is a non-linear process; pre-existing [developmental] conditions predispose society to certain socioeconomic outcomes; and finally, when socio-political costs outweigh that of local level gains, society surpasses its threshold, as a host nation for refugees, hence to the detriment of its management of social cohesion. Moreover, society experiences a social tipping point.

Keywords: refugees, irregular migration, effects of migration, human security, development, social cohesion, political community, provision of asylum, threshold, host nation, social equality, labour market outcomes, informal labour, social effects, ill-being, well-being, Syrian refugees, Syrians in Turkey, host population experience, coexistence

Subject: Development Studies thesis

Thesis type: Masters
Completed: 2021
School: College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
Supervisor: Dr Maryanne Kelton