This project examines how families with members suffering from chronic occupational diseases manage Covid-19 infection risk in Turkey. Workers employed in dangerous industries with exposure to the risk of chronic occupational diseases or those who suffer from such diseases become extremely vulnerable as healthcare services are drastically suspended for people with chronic health conditions. We will study how workers with silicosis—a chronic lung disease triggered by the inhalation of dust particles—and their families negotiate their working lives and health conditions within the specific context of Turkey. We will conduct surveys, telephone interviews with 30 households, and archival research on the pandemic’s socioeconomic impact on working-class families with members suffering from occupational diseases. Analyzing this data, we want to understand the familial, social, and political contexts where these workers face the conundrum between keeping their employment and maintaining their health. Moving beyond the microscopic approaches to contagion in epidemiological studies, this research first reveals the socially and politically embedded route of disease by analyzing the collective familial efforts in managing the volatile balance of infection, the need for care, and household subsistence. Second, our research shows how the two public health crises—i.e., the acute Covid-19 pandemic and the slow unfolding of occupational diseases—and their diverse temporalities co-exist and perpetuate each other in unexpected ways. Finally, it diversifies scholarly conversations on the pandemic and contributes to epistemic fairness by incorporating the perspectives of researchers and the marginalized poor from the global South.
Assistant Professor, Sociology Department, Koç University
PhD Candidate, Johns Hopkins University