Mustafa Yavaş

Mustafa Yavaş


New York University Abu Dhabi

I am affiliated with NYU Abu Dhabi, where I was a Postdoctoral Associate from 2020-2023 and currently teach as an Adjunct Lecturer. Focusing on economic and political sociology from a global perspective, my research is motivated by longstanding questions concerning the division of labor and well-being, the dynamics of boundaries and identities, and the micro-macro problem. In addressing these questions, I prize analytical clarity and complement various methodologies depending on the specific research question. Always fascinated by polymaths and Swiss Army knives, I draw from qualitative, comparative-historical, and computational methods, including in-depth interviews, ethnography, network analysis, text mining, and agent-based modeling.

  • Inequality
  • Work and Occupations
  • Migration
  • Social Networks
  • Theory
  • PhD in Sociology, 2020

    Yale University

  • MSc in Industrial Engineering, 2015

    Boğaziçi University

  • BSc in Industrial Engineering, 2011

    Boğaziçi University

White-Collar Blues
The Making of the Transnational Turkish Middle Class

Mustafa's forthcoming book, White-Collar Blues (Columbia University Press), examines the rise of a new Turkish upper-middle class and its discontent with work. During the developmentalist era of the 1960s-70s, state-employed doctors, lawyers, and engineers were seen as the role models for “making it.” However, with Turkey’s tighter integration into the global economy, the neoliberalism of the post-1980s introduced professional-managerial employees of transnational corporations as the new symbols of success. Focusing on their quality of working life narratives through more than 100 interviews held in Istanbul and New York, I follow these elite workers as they are selected into, survive within, and opt out of corporate careers. Despite their upward mobility, many professionals’ narratives resonate with what I call white-collar blues: burnout and disappointment with demanding yet unfulfilling careers. Extending from the Turkish case, I develop a theory of middle-class alienation that accounts for how middle-class investments in education lead to high hopes, which then clash with the realities of poor work-life balance, low intrinsic satisfaction, and a felt lack of meaning from labor. White-Collar Blues reveals the hidden costs of seeking higher pay and status.


Work in Progress

  • “White-Collar Opt-Out: How ‘Good Jobs’ Fail Elite Workers.” (Revise & Resubmit)

    • 2022 Early Career Workshop Award, Society for Advancement of Socio-Economics (SASE)
  • “Transnational Corporations and Remaking of the Turkish Middle Class.” (Under review)

  • “Halfway-Return Migration of High-Skill Labor in the UAE,” with Anju Mary Paul and Sejin Park. (Data analysis)

  • “Pundits and Framing Struggles: The Gezi Park Resistance and Its Contested Coverage.” (Data analysis)

  • “Dyadic and Polyadic Network Processes: Toward an Eventful Lens to Modeling Diffusion,” with Emily Erikson. (Simulation analysis)

  • “National Prestige and the Structure of International Migration, 1973-2013.” (Data cleaning)

  • “Productivity vs. Worker Well-Being: Persistence and Change in Managerial Discourse and Corporate Culture in the US, 1922-2023.” (Data collection)

  • “What Do We Mean by ‘Consent’?” (Data collection)

Teaching Experience

The Certificate in College Teaching Preparation from Yale’s Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning, Fall 2019 (granted upon completion of a comprehensive training in effective teaching)


  • New York University Abu Dhabi, Social Research and Public Policy Department

    • SOCSC-UH 1310 Foundations of Modern Social Thought, Fall 2023, Spring 2024
  • Yale University, Department of Sociology

    • SOC 167S Social Networks and Society, Summer 2019


  • Yale University, Department of Sociology

    • SOC 160 Methods of Inquiry, Spring 2019
    • SOC 256 Advertising, Consumption and Society, Spring 2017
    • SOC 167 Social Networks and Society, Fall 2016
    • SOC 232 Islamic Social Movements, Spring 2016
    • SOC 151 Foundations of Modern Social Theory, Fall 2015
  • Yale University, School of Management

    • MGT 421E Innovator’s Perspective, Spring 2020 (EMBA course)
    • MGT 665 Principles of Entrepreneurship, Fall 2019 (MBA course)
  • Gateway Community College

    • SOC 665 Principles of Sociology, Spring 2020
  • Bogazici University, Industrial Engineering

    • IE 48F Agent-Based Modeling, Spring 2013
    • IE 533 Systems Theory, Fall 2012 (Graduate)
    • IE 306 System Simulation, Spring 2012