From the Deficit Frame to the Asset Frame: The Study of Ethnicity, Migration and Inequality in Türkiye

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Kuran İ.

in: Diverse Perspectives and Issues on Inequality, Hüseyin Fırat Şenol, Editor, Nobel Yayınevi, İstanbul, pp.27-46, 2023

  • Publication Type: Book Chapter / Chapter Research Book
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Publisher: Nobel Yayınevi
  • City: İstanbul
  • Page Numbers: pp.27-46
  • Editors: Hüseyin Fırat Şenol, Editor


This review article aims to examine the transition from the deficit to the asset framing in the study of ethnic migrants in contemporary Turkey. By specifically focusing on the case of Kurdish migrants, this article attempts to contribute to the literature on the nexus between ethnicity, migration and inequality. Originally derived from the discipline of psychology, the terminology of deficit- and asset-framing take new meanings in urban sociology. Basically, the deficit frame refers to structural constraints, whereas the asset frame denotes agency, resilience, and resistance of urban migrants. In analyzing the case of African Americans in the US, Hunter and Robinson (2016, p. 385) argue that the deficit frame corresponds to the socio-economic structures (or structural factors) that “negatively affect Black urban life” or “the cultural ‘deficits’” that disempower and stigmatize “Black Americans” in urban space, while the asset frame corresponds to the “agency and cultural contributions of urban Black Americans,” including social movement, space-making, everyday resistance and formal political action. The asset frame looks at “how Black Americans survive, challenge, and remake the circumstances structural changes cause, highlighting patterns of resiliency and persistence in spite of structure. This perspective assumes that resistance practices and strategies are a beneficial specialized knowledge that accrued to Black Americans (or other marginalized groups) over multiple generations” (Hunter & Robinson 2016, p. 387). In following the footsteps of Hunter and Robinson, I compare and contrast the previous studies dwelling on the deficit frame and recent studies emphasizing the asset dimension in analyzing urban Kurdish migrants in Turkey.