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The research project aims to explore Turkish migrant workers’ participation and representation at trade unions and works councils in the UK, Germany, and the Netherlands, which operate under the same EU legislation but have different citizenship regimes, migration policies and labour market systems

March for the alternative_turkmig project image Dominic Alves / Flickr
March for the Alternative - UNISON on The Strand, March 2011

This project makes a comparative analysis of Turkish migrant workers’ participation and representation at trade unions and works councils in the UK, Germany and the Netherlands, which operate under the same EU legislation but have different citizenship regimes, migration policies and labour market systems. Based on a field study, the research aims to develop further a theoretical framework by evaluating the “transnational social space” approach of migration studies together with the public sphere theory.

This project combines literature reviews of labour migration (transnational social space), political theory (public sphere/democratic participation), citizenship, and European Union politics.

Research objectives

  1. To explore the dynamics of the relation among the transnational social space of Turkish immigrants with the public sphere that they share with native workers.
  2. To compare citizenship, migration and labour market systems of selected countries and understand the role of the European Union on national policies with regard to labour immigration.
  3. To develop policy recommendations on immigration, citizenship and labour market to counter discriminatory attitudes and perceptions towards immigrants. 


This research is designed as a multi-method study in selected workplaces in the UK, Germany and the Netherlands, where Turkish immigrants comprise an important portion of the working people. Research will employ:

  1. Focus groups composed of Turkish shop stewards in selected workplaces. These workplaces will be selected in consultation with trade unions and immigrant networks.
  2. Survey administration carried out with a randomly drawn sample that is representative of Turkish immigrant workers, who are union members in selected workplaces.
  3. In-depth interviews that will be conducted with shop stewards with migration backgrounds and trade union officers dealing with migration policies and immigrant associations. 


This research aims to evaluate the “transnational social space” approach together with the “public sphere” theory to focus on dynamics of labour immigration and develop this theoretical framework at a European level, using a comparative perspective to shed light on the involvement process of Turkish migrant workers with the local working classes.

This research shall address debates around the current mass migration which has caused rapid transformation of the host societies politically, economically, culturally and demographically. Refugee and irregular migration movements challenge labour market systems and also transform citizenship regimes, democratic participation mechanisms and welfare systems. Even if immigrants/refugees/asylum seekers achieve the first step of receiving residence and work permits, they then face new challenges in the labour market. Labour market structures/policies and economic conditions may influence relations within the working people, which include the relation among natives/citizens and immigrants. 

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