The Current State of Well-Being of Youth in Turkey

Author: Ayça Oral

A recent fieldwork report[1] on youth in Turkey was published by a non-governmental organisation – Habitat Association (Habitat) in January 2020. This survey was conducted by the Infakto RW, an independent public opinion research company founded in 2003 in Turkey. The study by RW 6-18 Infakto dated April 2019, represented the urban youth population from 16 provinces of Turkey; data was collected through face-to-face interviews with 214 young people aged 18-29. 50 percent of the interviewed youth were women, 50 percent men, 44 percent were employed, 26 percent students, 13 percent were looking for jobs, and 17 percent were teens that neither worked nor went to school.

The report was based on the perspective of the ability (capacity) approach which was put forward by Amartya Sen. The approach provides a wide spectrum for youth’s capacity within the given opportunities and rights. In other words, to what capacity youth turn to themselves within the frame of rights and opportunities. Aside from that, this research report aims to create an archive regarding youth studies that have been analysed and commented upon by the youth and also show the correlation between the youth’s requests and public service.

The research carries out a youth well-being diagnosis and findings include 7 categories that are based on life satisfaction and hope for the future. These categories are; financial situation, home/environment, education, health, relations, voluntariness and participation, urban life and security.

As a result of the interviews, the report will map out a road for determining which factors can build a youth-friendly city in the future. Therefore, how happy and satisfied the youth are, is the focus of the research and it is hoped that the research will help to develop an effective policy in terms of youth at the national level and that it will be implemented according to young people’s needs and requests.

One of the most striking findings is about “participation” which is indicated as the weakest category in the report. Nevertheless, the participation category is limited to political participation and affiliation with an organisation or volunteering. It might be helpful to consider that other forms of participation such as cultural integration and inclusiveness could be included in the research.

The report indicated that “the most frequent cultural activities of young people are: going to the cinema, buying books, movies or music” and that “70 percent of the interviewed youth find their cultural consumption insufficient”[2]. The cultural activities of young people are considered just as culturally consuming under the section of Education. The subjects such as participation itself, cultural production and transformation that are closely related to happiness and satisfaction with life were not addressed in the report.

The survey items about gender identity are also based on heteronormativity, which are a challenge to an all-inclusive perspective and a better measurement of youth needs and satisfaction with life. Another weakness of the report is about the lack of information regarding the ethnicity and immigration status of the interviewed young people.

Another point is that ‘happiness’ and ‘satisfaction’ as an affect in life may seem opaque in the research. These two terms are given as standard meanings and completed notions. However, they are constantly rebuilt with new relations. Moreover, descriptions of these two terms were not linked and contextualized within the terms of given culture.

All in all, this quantitative-based research needs to be furthered by qualitative research methods to design a better policy and map of needs for youths.


Endnotes

[1] Erdoğan E. (n.d). Well-Being of Youth in Turkey. Retrieved January 20,2020, from https://habitatdernegi.org/wp-content/uploads/turkiye-de-genclerin-iyi-olma-hali-raporu.pdf

[2] Ibid.7


About the author

Ayça Oral, is a PhD. student in Sociology at Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, İstanbul. Her research interests are in the areas of popular culture, fandom communities, youth studies and visual sociology.