Civil Topography Classification

They are expressed for civil society organizations in many different terms such as non-governmental organizations, voluntary organizations, non-profit organizations, non-governmental organizations and the third sector. There is also a classification variety parallel to this concept diversity. Indeed, considering their functions in social life, target audiences, status, scale, working style etc., it is quite difficult to both conceptualize and categorize CSOs which have various specificities. It is possible to find a classification criterion agreed upon neither in the literature, nor by public institutions, nor by CSOs themselves.

YADA Foundation, in order to overcome the problem of classification to bring unique and inclusive approach and the limitations mentioned above, proposes a new classification which considers the  weaknesses, differences, originalities, and potentials of civil society in Turkey, as as an output of the research entitled “Civil Society Culture in Voluntary Organizations in Turkey”. The Civil Topography Classification, which is used as an analysis tool in other studies conducted by YADA, includes the following categories:


  • Self-organisation: These are the organisations that individuals with a disadvantaged position in relation to the general population have established in order to strengthen their positions. For example, organisations related to disabilities are such organisations established by individuals with disabilities. These organisations may create targets such as socialisation among themselves, as well as increasing their capacity and seeking to find solutions or fight for their rights related to their specific issues. On the other hand, coming together with the motivations to protect the interests or a certain group or their beneficiaries to establish an organisations is not sufficient to consider these groups under this category. The criteria for the definition of a self-organisation is for individuals to be positioned in a disadvantaged placement within society.
  • Advocate: Organisations that undertake the advocacy of a disadvantaged group, nature, animals, environment, human and consumer rights at the policy level and social conscience. These organisations set direct objectives, such as improving policies or improving practices, or they aim for an indirect benefit, such as ensuring society takes ownership for the issues at hand. On the other hand, organisations that advocate and/or represent an idea, ideology, an interest or a vocational benefit, do not fall under the category of “advocate” in this classification. Advocacy organisations are defined as organisations that target the betterment of the suffering parties in terms of being subject to discrimination in regard to universal values.
  • Politically oriented: Organisations that bring together individuals who share a certain world view or belief, and carry out activities to promote and/or disseminate their common theme. Such organisations often have organic or indirect links with political networks. Although these organisations may be passive disseminators, they are generally a party to the basic problems of Turkey and make statements, and also conduct protests and meetings to have an impact on public opinion.
  • Philanthropist: Organizations that provide cash and/or in-kind aid or services to the needy or disadvantaged groups of society.
  • Protective: There are also philanthropic organisations which do not directly provide financial support or aid which is of financial value, but rather aims to protect their target group by aiming to physically strengthen the related disadvantaged groups. “Protective Philanthropic Organisations” are generally with the close network of the related disadvantaged group or is a group established by experts which have an interest in the target group. Although fewer examples exist, there are also “Protective Organisation” established by those who have a sympathy for the disadvantaged group.
  • Expert: They are productive and creative organisations that provide a foundation for other organisations of civil society by producing expert knowledge on a certain subject. There maybe other organisations which are doing work related to an area of expertise, however, the reason for existence of an expert organisation is to produce knowledge and provide scientific outputs. As similar to Advocacy and Politically Oriented Organisations, Expert Organisations reach out to the public with the knowledge that they have produced. However, they should remain within the boundaries of objectivity and should not make biased appeals. Instead, they act to develop approached for the issues they undertake, and have a mission to diversify and ensure a knowledge base and infrastructure. It is possible to see that Expert Organisations behave as if they are in the category of Advocacy or Politically Oriented Organisations contingently, even in not essentially. However, these organisations gain their respect, not through the category they are in, but by means of their expertise. It is important for these organisations to upkeep this claim by preserving their objectivity




  • Construct, Sustain, Improve: Organisations which act in priority to construct, protect and improve a structure, venue or neighbourhood which is of public value. This mode of behaviour is one which is the oldest and most prevalent in Turkey as a behaviour which can be defined as charitable. As it is known, fountains which are constructed as a “good deed” are labelled as “charities”. Throughout history, mosques have been built by philanthropists so that Muslims can pray. However, since the establishment of the Republic, mosques have at times become affiliated with political or sects and while building a mosque is still considered an act of charity, it can also be viewed as having strong connects with a particular sect or network. In this sense, some mosque construction and maintenance related organisation as if they are a Politically Oriented Organisation. Besides this, this category also defines as relatively newer type of behaviour. This type is one which gives priority to protecting and improving/beautifying a neighbourhood, quarter or perhaps a site and required solidarity by its residents. In terms of solidarity, it has the features of the category of philanthropy and also the characteristics of Socialisation, for which the characteristics will be defined below.




  • Townsman: Organisations which bring together those of a certain geography or cultural background, who live in a different geography or culture. In general they aim to provide socialisation opportunities, a means to be a remedy to “homesickness”, to give back to their communities if their ties remain and provide a platform of support to overcome challenges which they may be experiencing. The large majority of these organisations established by those who have migrated to larger areas of settlement from a town or village. Many of their members live in the same or neighbouring areas. Even if their ties in their home towns have become weaker, they still exist. On the other hand, even though this category makes reference to a common geographical history, there are groups which have completely severed their ties from these geographies. These communities establish “Townsmen Organisation” to keep the fire of a common history and culture alight and make efforts to restore and promote them. In fact, although the majority may have severed their own ties, they conduct activities to share the tribulations of their community, countrymen/townsmen, kinship, nation and even other nations be conducting activities to bring solutions to problems. These characteristics make them similar, in part, to Politically Oriented Organisations and also Self-Organisations.




  • Socialisation: Organisations that provide platforms for socialising, in relation to a hobby, social exchange or a common background. They generally are not extrinsically motivated. They rarely make public the products of their exchange. However, they do this as a contingent, and not a necessity of social benefit and it is not systematic. These organisations are generally established by peers of age, vocation or culture to collectively carry out a hobby/interest. The collective may result in outputs such as choirs, exhibitions, fetes, etc. However, the main motivation is not the action, as it is a recreational activity. Many of these organisations are established to create a platform to play card or board games and meets the need of recreational activities for social circles.




  • Club: Organisations aiming to allow individuals with arts or sporting skills to perform related activities regularly and participate in races, competitions, leagues, tournaments or various national or international events. The most common of these types of organisations in Turkey are sporting clubs (especially soccer). Recently, dance schools are increasingly becoming federations. Many sports or arts centres which are managed like businesses can also have transfer to the Market Oriented category.




  • Vocation/Profession Oriented: Organisations which aim to ensure the promotion, development and protection of interests of individuals of a particular vocation or sector. They generally act like a chamber. They conduct activities towards the development of the vocation/profession, solidarity between colleagues, and finding solutions to vocation/professional problems. As they advocate for vocations/professional interest, they are similar to Advocate Organisations; however, they differ in their motivations as their efforts are to maximise particular interests rather than advocacy of universal rights-based activities. Some types are not vocation based, but are of the sectoral scale. They undertake the common problems regarding the reputation of the sector and legislative challenges. There are also those which do not focus on a particular sector, such as businessperson associations.




  • Market oriented: Market Oriented organisations are organisations which are questioned as to whether they are CSOs, as they are established with the aim to produce interest. While they could be a business venture, they aim to become an association, foundation or cooperative to benefit from the legal, ethical or social-cultural gains to be had by being a volunteer organisation. On the other hand, there may be benefit in separating the support provided through civil society activities and the local solely business related activities, such as operating a sauna or the selling of a product.




  • Affiliate: Organisations which are established to conduct activities which an organisation cannot conduct within their own organisation due to legal, economic or ethical reasons. There are many types. The most common are “Volunteer” organisations that are established with a separate regulation or legislative memorandum. These organisation may become idle in time, like the “Combatting Tuberculosis” association or may carry out activities outside of their mission, such as “Halkevleri [Community Centres]. Another type of Affiliate may be those organisations which are established to improve the wellness conditions of the managers or their employees or public organisations. Another type may be associations, foundations or cooperatives established under the leadership of public servants/managers for public servants which provide a certain service, to make use of a service or activity (such as municipal spots clubs) with ease and comfort without meeting barriers to attend in an activity outside of their organisation. The last type is the affiliates of private companies. In the past these were mainly established to conduct charity work by the capital providers, while today they are being established for institutional social responsibility and certain sponsorship activities for the reputation of the company and are managed by the managers of the existing companies. On the other hand, Affiliates create a problem as to their classification; as the affiliate’s working principal may be in line with another category. To disperse them to these other categories have an impact on their unique characteristics. Thus, Affiliate Organisations have diversified characteristics in many different areas. 



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