Invisibility of Intern's Labour: Is It Working? Is It Training? Is It Playing?

Sunday, 10 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 50 (Main Building)
Distributed Paper
Funda KARAPEHLIVAN, Marmara University, Sociology Department, Turkey
An unknown number of young people are doing internships globally. What we are seeing in the working world is an explosion of internships and interns. There are estimated to be about one to two million young people only in the United States doing internships each year and many of them are doing multiple internships. Many of these internships are unpaid and illegal. So the interns who are working under these conditions lack basic workplace rights. Yet the growing sense of insecurity and fear for future drive young people, especially university students and recent graduates to do internships with the expectation of gaining experience and guaranteeing jobs. The internship has become a widespread form of precarious employment among young people. It is mostly an unregulated world which is often used by employers as a means of obtaining cheap labour. As Ross Perlin says "unpaid internships have become standard practice across the globe" making interns' position legally ambiguous. Therefore their position in the work place requires invisibility. This paper aims to explore the world of internship by drawing on the feminist theory of invisible labour and it will be argued that normalisation process of precarisation contributes to this invisibility. The discussion will be based on an ongoing research conducted among university students and recent graduates who are doing or completed internships in various fields in Istanbul, Turkey.