The politics of skill and potential in an ‘emerging’ region : upskilling initiatives in Istanbul

Document Type

Journal article

Source Publication

European Journal of Cultural Studies

Publication Date



Advance online publication


Sage Publications Ltd.


Development, digital labor, emerging region, immaterial labor, information and communication technology for development, informational capitalism, Istanbul, life-long learning, Turkey, upskilling/deskilling


This article examines upskilling programs that involve information and communication technologies in the city of Istanbul, Turkey. While their learning aims range from basic computer skills to entrepreneurship and innovativeness, upskilling programs do not just stimulate skills and potential to learn, create and collaborate. They also introduce discourses and techniques that govern the latter. This article analyzes the politics of skill and potential in the so-called ‘emerging region’, where potential as a human resource becomes articulated to prognosticated macro-economic development yet where skill trends are equivocal. Focusing on both the curriculum design of upskilling programs and everyday practices of learning, I explore the subjection of skill and potential to rationalities of macro-economic development and informational-capitalist logics of accumulation as well as the possibility of resistance to such subjection. To this end, this article designs a nexus of upskilling/deskilling and empowerment/disempowerment, which highlights empirical and normative complexities in the debate on skill trends in cultural studies and adjacent fields.



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Funding Information

This research was partially funded by Lingnan University (Grant DA13A4). {DA13A4}

Publisher Statement

Copyright © The Author(s) 2017. Access to external full text or publisher's version may require subscription.

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Recommended Citation

Hoyng, R. (2017). The politics of skill and potential in an ‘emerging’ region: Upskilling initiatives in Istanbul. European Journal of Cultural Studies, Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/1367549416682969