About this book
The headscarf issue draws a great deal of public and academic attention in Turkey, yet the debate largely unfolds within the contours of the discussions over modernization, Westernization, and the Islamic / secular divide. Rarely is there a discussion about how the connotations of the headscarf shift across cleavages of class and status among women wearing it. Instead, the headscarf is typically portrayed as a symbol of Islamic identity, a 'cover' that brackets social inequalities other than those based on a supposed 'clash of identities.' This study looks beyond these contours by contextualizing the headscarf discussion in an insecure and low-status private sector labor market – namely, retail sales. Based on in-depth interviews, focus groups with lower-middle-class saleswomen with headscarves, and ethnographic study in five cities of Turkey, this book argues that the meanings of the headscarf are continuously negotiated within the quest for social and economic security.