Stratified membership: health care access for urban refugees in Turkey

Wanda Spahl*, August Österle

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article

9 Citations (Scopus)


Turkey hosts more refugees than any other country in the world. Incoming numbers have increased steadily since the outbreak of the Syrian war in 2011. This raises enormous challenges for the host country, not least with regard to the provision of healthcare. This article examines the developments in the light of stratified membership theories. More specifically, it asks how far the healthcare system in Turkey can be categorised as a system of stratified membership for different groups of urban refugees, focusing on refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Following a theoretical debate about stratification in the provision of social rights, 16 semi-structured interviews with experts and active participants were carried out in Ankara to understand the situation of urban refugees in need of healthcare. The results confirm assumptions of stratified membership theories which understand citizenship in a broad sense as comprising the interconnected dynamics between social rights, legal status and identity requirements. Next to ethnic categories of origin defining the status in Turkey, factors such as language skills or the individual economic situation also play crucial roles for stratified membership both as an empirical fact and as a constructed practice.

Original languageEnglish
Article number42
JournalComparative Migration Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 01 Dec 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Access
  • Citizenship studies
  • Healthcare
  • Refugees
  • Social rights
  • Syrians
  • Turkey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Statistics, Probability and Uncertainty
  • Law


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