Turkish youth overwhelmingly against ‘other,’ study says

Turkish youth overwhelmingly against ‘other,’ study says

Turkish youth overwhelmingly against ‘other,’ study says


A majority of Turkish youth are against the “other,” according to research carried out by Bilgi University. 

A study titled “Understanding the Process of ‘Othering’ in Encounters: Discussing Empathy and Equality with Youth in Turkey” focuses on how youth perceive “the other” in Turkey.

According to the study conducted between 2015 and 2017, with the support of the Scientific and Technical Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK), 90 percent of youth said they would not want their daughters to marry someone “from the ‘other’ group.”

While 80 percent of youth said they would not want a neighbor from the “other,” 84 percent said they would not want their children to be friends with children from the “other” group.

A ratio of youth who have said they would not do business with members of the “other” group also stood at 84 percent. Eighty percent said they would not hire anyone from the “other.”

Experts said the results of the study demonstrated the high social distance between youth.

Bilgi University said the study aimed to display the process of “othering,” meaning how it starts, how it is realized, what the determinants of its growth are and in what forms it is constructed.

The study was conducted to determine commonalities and differences and the main factors that affect the process of othering through encounters with other individuals, rather than me/us, the university also said.

In-depth interviews were carried out with 37 people in 2015 and focus groups, including youth from five different identity groups, which were formed for the study in 2016.

Researchers conducted face-to-face interviews with 1,224 young people between the ages of 18 and 29 in 18 provinces of Turkey in April and May of this year.

When the participants of the study were given a list of identities and were asked for which of those they use the word “we” the most, 94 percent chose “family,” while “Turks” followed it with 76 percent and 57 percent responded with “countryman.”

Sixty-nine percent chose “educated people,” 49 percent chose “secular and modern people,” 45 percent chose “religious” and 36 percent picked “conservative.”

Being a supporter of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey, was also on the list and 52 percent said they had used the word “we” for it.

The researchers also listed several identities that the youth often described as “we” and asked them which identity best describes the group they identify with.

“Turk” ranked first with 23 percent and being an Atatürk supporter followed with 12 percent.

While “Kurds and religious people” ranked third with 10 percent, nine percent refrained from stating any choice of identity.

When asked about the places they had been subjected to mistreatment when alienated, 23 percent of youth said during state interviews, 21 percent said police headquarters, 19 percent said public offices, 17 percent said universities, 16 percent said schools, 14 percent said hospitals and 13 percent said in luxurious stores.

One of the most interesting outcomes of the study was that the youth who are often engaged in intellectual activities, such as going to theaters, are less likely to alienate people.

The study also said youth’s perception of othering increased when the belief of their own group’s superiority also increased.

Traditional methods of political participation, such as voting or membership to a political party, also increased attitudes of othering.

The more the youth associated themselves with their identity, the more they displayed attitudes of othering, according to the study.

What decreased attitudes of othering, meanwhile, turned out to be contact with the “other.”

According to the study, the percentage of youth who had said Turkey’s moral values and traditions were under threat from “the group being avoided” was 61 percent.

While 59 percent said the aforementioned group posed a threat to Turkey’s unity and integrity, 57 percent said they believed their lifestyles were under threat because of the “other.”

When asked to state which groups they most perceived to be the “other,” the youth ranked homosexuals first with 89 percent.

Atheists and nonbelievers ranked second with 86 percent, people from other faiths ranked third with 82 percent, minorities stood at 75 percent and extremely religious people ranked fifth with 74 percent.