Youth ‘likely to vote in line with their parents’ choices’
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“They will rather vote according to their parents’ political views,” said Fatoş Karahasan, the writer of a book based on the research on Turkish youth. Youngsters in Turkey are too dependent on their parents, said Karahasan. “But they are unhappy and hopeless, sso they can make surprises at the ballot boxes,” she added. Karahasan is the author of the book “Make way, the youngsters are coming,” which includes additional input from several national and international surveys.
What is the general profile of the youth?
Surprisingly there are very small differences among them. They are extremely loyal to and dependent on their parents. And parents are happy with that. These parents, who are the children of people born during World War II, have actually achieved more than their parents. They worked and saved up for both their parents and children. They have dedicated their lives to meet the demands of their children and they believe this is their obligation. They ask their children to just go to school and complete a university degree. But, unfortunately, in Turkey more than half say they study in departments that they don’t like. They are unhappy in schools because most find their teachers insufficient.
So they’re living in a cocoon... With cellphones in their hands, they just chat with friends, watch videos and listen to music.
They don’t play games, they don’t have a pet at home, they don’t do sports, they don’t do self-care, they don’t take showers, they don’t brush their teeth. They get bored. Obesity is widespread, and four in 10 young people smoke cigarettes.
But on the other hand most say they are happy.
That feeling is not about happiness or joy. I see this as contentment. If they don’t have a particular financial difficulty or a specific problem in the family, there is not much that can make them very unhappy. Despite troubles, as a society we tend to say “Thank God, we’re just getting by.”
What is the world view of the youth?
They are directly influenced by their parents. In parallel with the tendencies in the world, the more there is tension outside, the more people tend to live under rocks. So these children, who live at home and talk with each other through emoji, can’t enter deep political lives. Some 84 percent said they are not interested in politics. They repeat whatever their parents say.
Normally, the youth takes the society forward. Since 1980 the society has been depoliticized, so currently parents are the ones the youth identify themselves with. And as their parents are afraid, they want to keep their children at home. So as long as they have their own rooms and Wi-Fi, they are fine. They are satisfied with eating pizza in a shopping mall.
They are not interested in politics, but they must still have some views about life and whatnot.
Actually, they have empty lives. If you don’t take their smartphones away from them, days will pass just like that. They spend an average eight hours a day on the internet and watch movies. They can spend hours with a friend at a cafe. When you ask them what they talk about with their parents, they say “family issues and relatives.” They gossip. Actually it’s continuous gossip. They’re always looking at each other’s photos and videos, and this way time flies. They stay connected all the time.
But they stay connected in a small world. It seems they have no access to networks that could open new horizons for them.
They are not looking for these. They don’t have money if they don’t receive allowances from their parents. Even those who have jobs take money from their parents.
The research shows that they share the same characteristics as their parents, like not trusting anyone or having no tolerance towards different people. Our generations disagreed with their parents.
That’s the problem, they don’t confront their parents. Your generation went to public schools, whereas modern-day parents have to pay for everything for these generations to provide them a better education and better life.
So the concepts of generation gap or generational conflict will no longer exist?
The business community thinks that generations Y and Z are very different, that they are very tech-savvy, and therefore very advanced. But that’s wrong. They just use mobile phones; they do not produce anything with them. But this is not their fault. Parents are to be blamed for their situation.
hey just consume. And there is no system to encourage them to do otherwise.
So the system just reproduces itself. This generation does not take the society further.
No it doesn’t. When the system does not go forward, that means stagnation and, thus, in return means going backwards. They don’t receive good-quality education, they have no skill sets, they don’t know the world and there are no jobs for them. When you ask them who Turkey’s best friends are, the answers they give are Azerbaijan and Russia. But Russia is also seen as a hostile country. They contradict themselves. They have not seen the world. So how do they know about it? They just repeat what their parents say. When they are asked whose views they value the most, girls say their mothers and boys say their fathers.
The research says say avoid confrontation and conflict with parents.
They rely on their parents. But they also see them as role models; they respect them and they are a bit wary of them. Past generations were more courageous, they were not scared of conflicts. The new generations are not like that. That’s why the name of the research is “From confrontation to conformism.”
So what can the politicians promise them to lure their votes?
Education and employment.
But do they want to work? The research says they want to retire at the age of 49.
A university graduate definitely wants to work, leave the family house and have a social life. Just like in the world they want a better balance between work and private life. Yet in contrast to the West, our youth quits the job quicker if the pay is not that good or if it’s far from home. “If worst comes to worst I’ll sit at home,” they say.
So you claim technology has not served the youth in Turkey well?
No it hasn’t. They use smartphones and iPads, but they do not produce anything. Our children are not willing to compete with the rest of the world.
How will they cast their votes?
I am guessing that they will vote in line with their parents’ political views. This is the case with the rest of the world as well. It is especially difficult to go from one end of the spectrum to the other in a polarized political environment.
Democracy, human rights and freedoms are not really priorities. Economic difficulties are more predominant.
If I were a politician, I would not make much effort to lure the youth then. Addressing their parents is enough.
Peer-to-peer communication is very important for youngsters. They influence each other. There is very little benefit for a leader to go on TV channels and address the youth by making promises to them. They don’t watch those programs. Video messages on social media are more popular. For the youth what matters is what their friends think, so the parties with the best youth organization can draw the votes of youngsters.
But let me add that they are unhappy and hopeless, so we might see some surprising results as well. No matter how conformist they are, at the end of the day by their nature, the youth have some fire inside them, so they might decide to ignite that fire. Deep down, they might feel angry at their parents and reflect that anger by voting for the other camp.
When we ask about their concerns, they say they are worried about their future, they say their children will not get a better education then theirs, and they won’t have better lives. So maybe they might show some survival instincts. The campaign period was short so I don’t know to what degree parties could get their messages across to the youth.
WHO IS FATOŞ KARAHASAN?
Fatoş Karahasan has assumed top executive positions in a number of prominent advertising agencies in Turkey. Since 2003 she has given courses on marketing communication, advertising and digital marketing at Istanbul’s Bilgi University.
While working as advisor for a number of local and foreign companies, Karahasan has also written for daily Dünya and Cnnturk.com and served as a member of the advertising Self-Regulatory Board.
The author of several books, Karahasan’s most recent title “Open the Way, Youngsters are Coming” is based on the Turkish Youth Research by Sia Insight, which was made up of face to face interviews with 2000 respondents in 15 different cities.