Ongoing and concluded PhDs

PhD researcher or student information

Ayse Güdük

Discipline: Law

Degrees BA: Political Science


Political Science

PhD Research Information

Family reunification of Turkish migrants in Belgium and the Netherlands
A comparative study of legal consciousness of Turkish migrants in Belgium and the Netherlands

Brief description:

This research focuses on family reunification of Turkish migrants in Belgium and the Netherlands. Legal consciousness of Turkish migrants in light of evolving policies and laws will be examined in both countries. Belgium and the Netherlands are among the main countries regarding labour migration from Turkey to Europe under ‘the guestworker scheme’. Turkish migrants have made extensive use of family reunification procedures. Turkish citizens hold a unique legal position in Europe. Their situation is not only covered by immigration legislation, but also by specific treaties: the Ankara agreement at European level and bilateral employment agreements at the national level. As a consequence, many Turkish citizens enjoy another treatment compared to other third country nationals, among others as regards family reunification. Scientific knowledge on how this multi-layered framework on family reunification interacts with the actual lives of Turkish migrants is however limited today. On the one hand, doctrinal legal research on family reunification does not incorporate migrants’ perspectives. On the other, sociological research has mostly focused on marriage migration and pays little attention to the role of policies and laws. This dissertation aims to contribute to filling this gap, by a socio-legal study on the legal consciousness and strategies of Turkish migrants as regards family reunification, in light of changing policies. The complexities of the empirical realities will be analyzed and interpreted on the basis of a comparative study of Belgium and the Netherlands.


The project will combine legal, socio-legal and comparative methods. The European, the Belgian and Dutch frameworks on family reunification for Turkish migrants will be analyzed through a desk-based legal study. This will include a study of the relevant laws, policies, parliamentary works, key case law and scholarship. Insights into migrants’ legal consciousness will be gained through a socio-legal research among Turkish population in Ghent (Belgium) and Haarlem (the Netherlands). In each city, between 25 and 30 in-depth semi-structured interviews will be conducted with Turkish migrants. Questions will probe for their understanding of the right to respect for family life, their knowledge of the state’s family reunification policy, their concrete experiences with family reunification procedures, and the strategies adopted in response to evolving policies. Particular attention will be paid to the impact of the multi-layered regulation of family reunification in general, and of the legal differentiations established among Turkish persons (e.g. economically active or non-active / worker vs. self-employed). Furthermore, the research will limit itself to the sponsor as regards the role of the respondent and the partner as regards the type of family member. The nationality of the sponsor determines the family reunification procedure. Interviewees will be found via an open call in the first instance, personal networks of the researcher and the supervisor, lawyers and possibly additionally through a snowball effect. If it turns out that finding respondents remains difficult, the researcher will contact Turkish organizations, such as Inspraakorgaan Turken in Nederland (IOT) and the workers organization (HTIB (Hollanda Türkiye Iṣciler Birliḡi) – with secretariat in Amsterdam – in the Netherlands, and Unie voor Turkse Verenigingen – which has a secretariat in Ghent – in Belgium. Upon consent, interviews will be taped and transcribed. Analysis of the interview data will be done with NVIVO.

Keywords: family reunification, legal consciousness, Turkish migrants

Language(s) of writing: English

Country: Belgium

Home University:

Ghent University


Faculty of Law & Criminology

Supervisor: Ellen Desmet
Start date: 03-09-2018
PhD current status: PhD Ongoing
PhD research funded by: FWO
Name of grant:
Added to catalogue on: 04-07-2019

Additional information: