Affiliation: NYU Abu Dhabi
Education: BSc Bogazici University; MSc Bogazici University; PhD Yale University
Research Areas: Economic Sociology; Political Sociology; Sociology of Work; Social Networks
Mustafa Yavas is a sociologist focused on economic and political sociology with strong interests in inequality, work and occupations, immigration, social movements, and theory. He uses qualitative, comparative-historical, and computational methods, including in-depth interviews, social network analysis, computational text analysis, and agent-based modeling. His previous research focused on various boundary processes in social, economic, and political settings, including status homophily in social networks, residential segregation by income, and collective identity formation in social movements.
Building on the insights from these studies, his book, White-Collar Blues: The Making of the Transnational Turkish Middle Class (under advanced contract with Columbia University Press), examines the rise of a new upper-middle class fraction in the age of globalization and its discontents with work. During the 1960s-70s’ developmentalist era, state-employed doctors, lawyers, and engineers were the role models for “making it.” However, the post-1980s neoliberal era, marked by increasing foreign direct investment and Turkey’s tighter integration into the global economy, witnessed the emergence of new hegemonic symbols of success: professional-managerial employees of transnational corporations. Focusing on their quality of work-life narratives through more than 100 in-depth interviews held in Istanbul and New York City, the book follows these professionals through the employment life course: i) selection into, ii) surviving within, and iii) opting out of corporate careers. Despite their upward mobility in Turkey and beyond through employment at world-renowned transnational corporations, many business professionals’ narratives resonate with white-collar blues: feelings of disappointment and exhaustion that emanate from demanding and unfulfilling corporate careers. Extending from the Turkish case, the book develops a theory of middle-class alienation that accounts for how middle-class investments in education and high hopes for corporate careers clash with the realities of poor work-life balance, low intrinsic satisfaction, and a lack of meaning from labor. White-Collar Blues reveals the hidden costs of sacrificing these essentials for higher pay and status by capitalizing on how the so-called “Good Jobs” can fail their occupants.
His other current major project aims to map the field of political opinion in contemporary Turkey and its change over time. This study focuses on the role of media in the rise of authoritarianism by combining computational text analysis with social networks.
Mustafa received his BSc and MSc in Industrial Engineering from Bogazici University and briefly worked as an engineer before starting his PhD in Sociology at Yale University.