The limits to fictive kinship between the migrant care worker and the mother: Negotiating emotions in child care

Kınıkoğlu C. N. , Sadıkoğlu Z. Z. , Yaman F.

British Sociological Association Emotions Study Group 2022 Symposium: Emotions & Social Change, Edinburgh, England, 28 - 29 June 2022, pp.6-7

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Summary Text
  • City: Edinburgh
  • Country: England
  • Page Numbers: pp.6-7


Against the backdrop of neoliberalisation of care services and the formation of a global care chain, migrant care workers from former Turkic Soviet Union countries created a pool of informal employment in Turkey, especially in child care services. 

This informality is consolidated through a fictive kinship, whereby the migrant care worker is conceived as a part of the family and thus expected to bear the emotional labour in child care and domestic work. In this ongoing study, we investigate how emotions invested in child care and the kinning process are negotiated by the mother and the migrant care worker through semi-structured interviews in five households (5 mothers and 5 live-in migrant care workers) in Istanbul, the hub of migrant workers in Turkey. Early findings indicate that migrant care workers, as family members, and mothers shared emotions of love and compassion towards the children. This kinning process created an indispensable dependency between the mother and the migrant caregiver, which was expressed through emotions such as fear, anxiety and jealousy. Mothers were concerned that their caregivers would abandon them for better wages. They also expressed jealousy and anxiety over the emotional attachment between their children and the migrant caregivers, who increasingly became family members. For the migrant care worker, this dependency was primarily financial and they feared losing their security, privacy and jobs. These contesting emotions showcase the hierarchical limits of the fictive kinship constructed between the migrant care worker and the family, especially the mother.