Turkey Social Structural Principles

Saygi and Sevgi

Saygi (respect) and sevgi (care) regulate the hierarchical relationship from above and below within society, at work and within the family. Authority arises based on age, gender, and social status. This person is shown respect and respect. The expressions of respect vary according to context. They manifest themselves in visible behavior. For one family it is acceptable if, for example, the father is contradicted in discussions / decisions, in other families this is considered disrespectful and is sanctioned. For some, objection is only allowed in the closest family circle, for others also publicly.

The respected person takes care of the needs of the relatives. This typically results in a role-specific distribution of tasks within the family. The authority figures (father, older brother, mother) take care of the little ones (younger siblings, girls). Participation rights and delegation of tasks are distributed according to rank and reputation. There is a relative equality between the oldest sister and the younger brother. The father is often regarded as the normative authority, while the mothers often exercise the actual responsibility for bringing up children. In general, mothers have a special meaning and experience the approval of their sons even after their marriage. The daughter-in-law is referred to as “Gelin”, “the one who came into the house”.

Which behavior a person shows depends on the gender of the interaction partner and his or her affiliation to the internal / family or external / public area of life.

Namuz (honor)

Namuz regulates the behavior of the sexes towards one another, especially in the area of overlap between “public and private / family space”. As a code of conduct, it determines which families, women or men are considered to be honorable and thus considered socially. It should be noted that a person cannot apply something on his own. Social – honorable – identity is only formed through recognition and show of respect from outside. If this ascription is made, for example, “temiz aile kizi – clean family girl”, this is also shown in the fact that the gender boundary is preserved. This is how individual pride and social prestige develop.

Family members base their behavior on the prevailing rules. What is honorable and how violations are punished depends on which social group the family belongs to. In a rural region, for example, it may be absolutely necessary for a girl to change streets when a boy comes towards her. Going to a club alone is perfectly acceptable to another young woman and those around her.

Men see attacks on the gender of their female family members as a violation of their own honor. Behind this is the opinion that a man can stand up for his honor. A man has to take care of the preservation of a woman’s honor, because it is assumed that the “inappropriate” behavior towards women comes primarily from men. The “protection” or the “restoration of honor” is incumbent on this understanding according to male family members.


Seref is the aspect of honor that relates on the one hand to the individual as personal dignity. On the other hand, it also has the power of a social structural principle and ensures the possibility of equality between the social units. Honor in the sense of Seref is given for service to society. People or professions that are related to their values, e.g. teachers, are considered to be honorable. Anyone who has the rank of “serefli adam – an honorable person” is obliged to bring the honor of the community back to good use, for example through generosity. Seref can be increased or decreased and can also be inherited, Seref / honor is hereditary, because it is often about ancestry, historical roots and connection with history.

Honorable / serefli is only a person who is also considered honorable / namuzlu in the eyes of others. But not every honorable person is also honorable / serefli.

Ataturk Mausoleum

Religious signs

According to militarynous, the Turkish identity is clearly Muslim, even if religious signs and behaviors can be found weakened in reality depending on the environment. Widespread are: mosques, muezzin calls, Ramadan fasting, headscarves, blue glass beads against the evil eye, renouncement of pork, ritual slaughter of animals, circumcision festivals.

Sometimes there are also separate restaurant areas (aile salonu) for families and men, women and men who do not shake hands, restaurants without alcohol, veiled brides, religious clothing, separate weddings, people praying – on Friday also on paths / streets.

Religion provides orientation in everyday life for people’s behavior. One is generally open to Christians and Jews because they are also considered to be members of a “book religion”. Atheists often find no understanding.