Turkish divorces in Denmark. Investigating gender and power across transnational spaces
Employment and Integration SFI - the Danish National Centre for Social Research Copenhagen K, Denmark
Much recent research has focused on immigrant family formation practises, revealing how home-country norms and networks may shape marriages across transnational spaces. Little attention, however has been paid to family dissolution to divorce.
Using Turkish immigrants as a case, the paper investigates divorces among Turks in Denmark. While divorce is common in Denmark - 40% of married couples dissolve - it is both rarer and much less accepted in Turkish society. We have, however, no knowledge on divorce patterns on any immigrant groups in Denmark, and little international knowledge on immigrant divorces is available at all. This study addresses this lack.
Among immigrant descendants, a marriage between one spouse raised in Denmark and one raised in Turkey predominated until 2002. In such marriages, the arriving migrant spouse, regardless of gender, is in a relatively weak position due to lack of Danish language skills, local networks, and due to the risk of expulsion if the marriage ends within the first seven years.
Since 2002, Danish legislative changes have strongly curbed marriage migration, making marriages between two spouses raised in Denmark predominate in the Turkish community. One consequence of this change seems, interestingly, to have been a recent hike in divorce rates.
This study thus compares similarities and differences in divorces that terminate three distinct types of marriages: Transnational marriages where 1) the man, or 2) the woman arrived from Turkey for the marriage, or 3) marriages between two decendants raised in Denmark. This comprises most marriages/divorces as less than 10% of Turkish descendants in Denmark marry native Danes or other ethnicities.
The study combines first, register data analysis on all marriages and divorces involving Turkish migrants and descendants in Denmark. Second, drawing on the author´s ability to speak both Turkish and Danish, it uses biographical interviews with male and female divorcees raised in Denmark as well as in Turkey.
The study thus uses divorces as a lens to investigate how men and women variably negotiate the contradictions between individualization processes and more collective home-country ideals, and how gender and power structures in these processes affect each other across transnational spaces.