The British Council, as a part of its global Next Generation research series, commissioned Yaşama Dair Vakıf (YADA) and Gelecek Daha Net (GDN) Gençlik Platformu to conduct the Next Generation Turkey research project. The research, being sensitive to the diversity of youth in Turkey and their voices to be heard, aimed to uncover what they have in common, as well as what distinguishes them from each other.
A mixed methodology was employed for the research. This included a nationally representative survey across 12 cities with 2,524 respondents between the ages of 18 and 30, conducted between 1 March and 10 April 2017. Between 18 May and 23 June 2017, interviews were conducted in four cities (İstanbul, Kayseri, Konya, Diyarbakır) with 93 young people from different backgrounds. An innovative research tool, fuzzy cognitive mapping, was also utilised in interviews to reach an understanding of how young people perceive their sources of support, and the barriers they face when shaping their future plans. Academic advisers and the task force members supported analysis and interpretation of the research results. During the period of the research, roundtable meetings were held to take the insights of professionals from various fields of civil, private and public sectors regarding youth in Turkey. A youth workshop was also organised to discuss the findings with young people and encourage them to put forward their own recommendations around issues that emerged through the research.
An overall assessment of the findings of the research shows that the perceptions and experiences of young people have two facets: on the one hand, on multiple levels, young people commit to fixed, solid, traditional and closed structures (education, politics, family, identities, communities, country, etc.). They strongly identify with and rely on the support they receive from these structures. On the other hand, they desire to be independent and autonomous individuals, and – to a large extent – recognise and appreciate the diversity in their society, and show more flexibility in their values and attitudes than older generations. These two facets of their lives co-exist, not in an ‘either/or’ but a ‘both/and’ relationship. The experience of young people in Turkey today is strongly characterised by an effort to negotiate these pressures, trying to develop ways to achieve their individualism without giving up on or getting into conflict with their families and communities.
“Youth in Turkey have strong ties with their communities: home, family, country and the region. These ties provide them with indispensable support and security. Yet young people also feel the need to become independent from these ties. This means they are constantly in a state of tension, wishing to strike a balance between their sense of individual self and independence, and their allegiance and ties to their communities and other fixed structures.”
“Turkey is faced with high rates of NEET and youth unemployment: 26 per cent of young people between the ages of 18 and 30 are in the NEET category and 12 per cent are unemployed. The NEET rate among young women is twice as high as it is among young men (36 per cent against 17 per cent).”
‘I believe people should live according to their own ideas or how they feel like living. Nevertheless, it is very hard in our society. I prefer to live among people who can express their ideas, who don’t hold back or get scared.’ (Female, age 21)