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Living and Working in Turkey

Alphabetized adults: 95.7% (2015)

Major religions: Islam: 98% Muslim (80% Sunnis, 20% Alevis)

Urban population: 74.3%

Life expectancy (female / male): 80/75 years (2017)

Gender Inequality Index: Rank 69 of 160 (2017)

Number of births: 2.05 / woman (2016)

Infant mortality: 12.7 / 1000 live births (2016)

Working conditions in Turkey

The working conditions in Turkey are far from what is elsewhere reality: a weekly working time of 45h, Saturday as a regular working day and 12 to 24 days holiday – depending on length of service. Many work in unsecured employment relationships with no contract and no enforceable rights.

Health and safety at work is also poorly anchored and the media repeatedly report on accidents at work in connection with inadequate or non-compliance with safety regulations, e.g. 22 people lost their lives in Turkish shipyards in 2008 (in Germany: 2 people, in Great Britain: 1 person).

A mining accident in May 2014 in Soma in western Turkey caused great shock, in which more than 300 people were killed. The rescue operation was accompanied by demonstrations against the operating company and the government, which were held responsible for the fact that greed for profit prevented the implementation of effective controls and that there was a lack of political will to comply with safety regulations.

This means a major challenge for the unions to improve the situation of the workers. The most important trade union federations are Türk-IS, DISK; HAK-IS, KESK. After years of discussion, a new trade union law was passed in 2012. Important changes should in particular relate to the easing of union membership, an improvement in protection against dismissal due to union membership and the revision of the determination of the eligibility for a collective agreement. Trade union associations are dissatisfied with the result and see a clear deterioration.

Ethnic groups and minorities

The main population groups in Turkey include Turks, Kurds and Arabs. Minorities are Armenians, Greeks, Jews, Bosnians, Zaza, Lasen, Circassians, Turkmens, Yazidis, Roma and numerous other ethnic groups, whose share in the total population is small. Turkish is the national language, as a former multi-ethnic state there are a total of 36 other languages that are spoken within the various ethnic groups.

While in the Ottoman Empire the non-Muslim minorities and ethnic groups in millets (religious groups) lived next to each other without conflict (separate jurisdiction, compulsory poll tax to the sultan, cultural freedom), the process of Turkishization began at the beginning of the 20th century due to tendencies towards homogenization. As a result, the Turkish people merged with Sunni Islam.

According to philosophynearby, the largest ethnic minority is the Kurds. Her home region is the southeast, so far a poor house that has not yet been able to participate in the prosperity of the west. The Kurdish question, ie the recognition of their cultural right, divides the nation for decades. The end of the conflict is not yet in sight, but the signs in the summer of 2015 were not bad to put peace and equality on the political agenda. The positive trend has cooled down at the moment, the guns are speaking again on both sides. In the course of the conflict that flared up, 500,000 people were displaced from the Diyarbakir region in 2015/2016. The conflict has also continued on a political level; many of the Kurdish MPs who belong to the HDP have been arrested or had to give up their immunity.

Since 2015, Turkey’s population has grown by 4 million people. In addition to 3.6 million Syrians who left their country in the course of the civil war, Turkey now has 170,000 Afghan and 142,000 Iraqi migrants among its residents.

The new Turkish middle class

Since the strengthening of the AKP, the previously secularly oriented middle class has expanded by one dimension. Dr. Heinz Kramer sees four categories here along the lines of “religious – secular” and “modern – traditional”.

The secular camp primarily includes members of the state apparatus, ie civil servants, the military, teachers, university and media representatives who are characterized by state-centered thinking and who judge from this perspective. Then there is a modern middle class in the metropolitan areas. Their representatives are mostly members of the younger generation, they are employed or self-employed in modern industrial companies, in the service sector, in the communications industry, in the media industry or in the education sector. Their lifestyle is modern, western, consumer-oriented. State ideology and religion have no special meaning. They are actually secularized and have no interest in religion or politics. In the broadest sense, they advocate liberal-democratic Europeanization,

The modern middle class of the conservative-religious camp leads a life determined by religious values, in which faith plays an important role. However, religion is private and should not be prescribed by state action in the sense of a socio-political requirement.

The followers of the traditional line of this direction often have their roots in the Milli Görus movement, the main organization of classical political Islam. We find them as the AKP group; They form the core of a religious-traditional middle class with an Anatolian character, whose members understand the guidelines of the Islamic religion as guidelines of conduct that are binding throughout society.

There is also a distinction between village and urban. Often the attributes “uneducated”, “poor” are used for residents of rural regions. “Urban” as a term should also be questioned, because the majority of city dwellers live in suburbs and outskirts that are as far removed from the bourgeois urban population as an Anatolian village.

In conclusion, it can be said that the respective classes are characterized by pronounced segregation. A spatial overlap, for example between secular and religious, is a recent phenomenon. The counterpart to this is West – East and is attributed identically.

Generation Z, who only know Erdogan’s presidency, are eagerly awaited to influence future elections. Researchers attribute an important role to it.

Turkish flag