What is the role of digital tools for the youth who was born and raised within the digital age to create their own identities? How do the various connections and opportunities impact this process? Executed by Asst. Prof. İrem İnceoğlu from Kadir Has UniversityDepartment of Public Relations and Information, the research project titled “An Analysis of New Media and Cultural Practices of Youth in Turkey” reveals striking results.
An ongoing TÜBİTAK project with an interdisciplinary structure at Kadir Has University is intended to extend the conceptual framework by involving cultural geography, for which a concept hasn’t been generated yet at youth-related studies. “An Analysis of New Media and Cultural Practices of Youth in Turkey” titled research will enable evaluation of the relationship between culture and place together with new media technologies, covering a theoretical and methodological gap in the literature.
Executed by Asst. Prof. İrem İnceoğlu, a faculty member of Department of Public Relations and Information at KHAS Faculty of Communication, and including Assoc. Prof. Defne Karaosmanoğlu as a researcher, the project includes Billur Dokur, a post-doctoral scholarship holder, Büşra Sağlam and Yiğit Bahadır Kaya, scholarship holders of Master’s Program at Communication Studies Graduate Program, and Çağla Şen and Elif Mülayim, students at the Faculty of Communication. Along with this leading team that works throughout the project, including a master’s scholarship holder and an undergraduate scholarship holder in the group at various periods in line with the needs for field studies. Having started on 1 April 2019, the project will continue until 1 October 2021. A total budget of the project supported within the scope of TÜBİTAK 1001 is TRY 606,645, with the institutional share included.
The primary goal of the project is to analyze the cultural experience map of the Turkish youth by explaining them in detail; and within this context, to listen to the stories of the youth who live in various cities and have various class and culture-based identities and their way of association with digital culture and new media from the first person, and to understand them. Bringing the aforementioned areas into question and creating an aoristic impact in the lives of the youth is intended through national and international conferences and collaborations with non-governmental organizations operating in the area of youth. In this context, project outputs will be shared with non-academic stakeholders during conference presentation and publications, as well as workshop events to be held by the project team and attended by relevant stakeholders.
The research project intends to contribute to the literature through the range and novelty of theoretical and methodological scopes. Dr. İnceoğlu says: “With the research deeply analyzing the media and cultural experience map of the Turkish youth by considering it together with the concept of relationality, we not only focus on the media and communication technology usage habits, experience and dreams of the youth but also analyze such experiences together with other cultural experience and practices as well as class and identity based social positions of the youth. Our studies are of unique value as the first research so deeply analyzing the media and culture-based experiences of the youth theoretically and methodologically.”
The guidelines for executing the project comprise literature work, field study, and analysis of the data collected. Youth studies, media studies and digital culture, cultural studies, and cultural geography-related studies are included in the scope of project literature. As part of field studies, in-depth face-to-face interviews were held with a total of 200 young people at ages 18-30 from 8 selected provinces (İstanbul, Ankara, Erzurum, Adana, Diyarbakır, Trabzon, İzmir, and Çanakkale) from various parts of Turkey. Separate focus groups were executed for each province, with 5-7 attendees selected from these interviewees. In advance, a survey was conducted with 1057 people in 12 provinces throughout Turkey.
All data collected via in-depth face-to-face interviews and focus group conversations were primarily transcribed and coded via MAXQDA, an analysis program. Data from field studies are analyzed within the scope of the literature. As a result of the analysis to be generated, the survey findings will be planned to be shared in an event in 2021 fall. And joint research is carried out for the issue areas identified via stakeholders related to the topic.
All stages of literature review and field study were completed for the project. In the final six months of the research, an article will be written, and a workshop will be carried out through analysis of all the data collected after pre-analysis. The project team had interviews with more than 200 young people during the period of research. They share their stories of life passionately and clearly with the team had made a significant contribution to the project data to be quite striking.
In the young people’s narratives, the internet plays a significant role in the city they live in, their families, and their immediate social environment. Although all the young people who were born and raised in the digital age we live in are from very different cultures, classes, and social backgrounds, and some of them were born right in the middle of Istanbul while some of them were born in a very distant village at Southeast, learning that digital tools share their endeavors for entity and identity was a guide for the team during the execution of the research.
Despite the different environments and facilities they have, witnessing that Turkish young people’s disturbance about the future is geography-based, that their nostalgia shapes the imagination of the future, and that their dream is the desire for freely expressing themselves and realizing themselves through their phrases in a place clear of family, society and political pressure clearly shows that digital area is a part of habitus. However, it’s concluded that the definition of generation cannot be considered independently of concepts such as habitus and cultural capital despite statements discussing the young people named Gen Z in various media and born in the late ’90s as if they are a homogenous group.
The findings of the research regarding the media and communication technologies will be analyzed by associating them with other cultural activities and social position, and the results to be revealed will provide a unique value to contribute for perceiving, understanding, and analyzing today’s youth for not only sociology, anthropology and political science-based researchers intended to create a precise analysis of the Turkish society, but also for policymakers, and decision-makers that generate media representations.