From Closure to Expansion: Stratification and Skill Segregation of Turkish Lawyers

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Koytak M. E.

British Sociological Association Work, Employment and Society Conference 2021: Connectedness, Activism and Dignity at work in a Precarious Era, London, England, 25 - 27 August 2021, pp.0-1

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Summary Text
  • City: London
  • Country: England
  • Page Numbers: pp.0-1


My thesis aims to show to that the occupational social closure (Collins, 1990; Murphy, 1988; Rogowski, 1995; Saks & Adams, 2019), is not a stable and irreversible phase of development even if it is strictly sponsored by the state. With the late-but-massive expansion of higher education, the gates of the elite professions in Turkey have recently opened to young generations from middle and lower socio-economic statuses. In this context, on the one hand, the established returns and symbolic value of law degree are eroded, and on the other hand, the corporate law offices rise as monopolies in the legal sector. As a result, the professional skills and positions of lawyers are now in a state of segmentation according to the sophisticated and competitive demands of market forces. To explore this change, I use three types of empirical sources: First, national statistics of law education, legal market and professional jobs, in order to discover how and when the occupational closure is dissolving. Second, a dataset of 1319 lawyers who work at 106 Turkish law firms featured in the Legal 500, to see the emerging elite skills and capitals within the profession. Third, to trace how the change is experienced, in-depth interviews I conducted with lawyers from different cohorts and work-types. My preliminary findings suggest that while the new higher stratum of corporate lawyers lacks the authority and autonomy of the traditional solo lawyer; the new lower stratum of unskilled masses is not only overpopulated but also prone to increasing precarity.