I will talk about a research: “The Well-Being Conditions of The Citizens in Turkey: Towards a Healthy, Happy, Fair, Safe, Hopeful and Strong Society” of the Equality Studies Association written by Ali Yalçın Göymen and Gülnur Elçik.
With this study, it was aimed to analyze the well-being of the citizens by conducting a research covering Turkey in general. The study was conducted on a sample of 1,000 people with breakdowns of age group, gender, geographical region, and socio-economic status were included. The margin of error of the study was determined as 3.10 percent and the confidence interval was determined as 95 percent.
Indicators taken as a basis when measuring their well-being: The activities that individuals carry out to shape their lives, including education, health and work, their political participation, social ties and relations, their relationship with the environment, and the sense of security in both economic and physical terms.
In the study, it was taken into account that social and political conditions are as determinant as economic conditions in terms of measuring well-being, especially in an authoritarian regime.
The data obtained are striking: the worsening of the income situation accompanies the worsening of the working conditions; the majority say that the Turkish economy has had a bad effect on them; indebtedness rate is high, indebtedness negatively affects social ties; the rate of those who stated that their mood deteriorated was high; two-thirds of the population is experiencing hopelessness and despair.
In other words, Turkey’s citizenship status is not good… Let’s examine the details:
First of all, questions were asked to measure the well-being of citizens in the fields of health, education and culture in general.
Health: 50.7 percent of the population has been experiencing various health problems in recent years.
Education: Only 11.9 percent of those who have children in kindergarten age can send their children to kindergarten. The low level of female employment not only makes childcare the responsibility of mothers, but also has negative consequences for the socialization of the child.
Culture: The rate of those who can participate in cultural activities such as concerts, theaters and panels is limited to 26.2 percent.
A very depressing picture was encountered in terms of physical and mental development. When we look at the social media usage rates, the fact that citizens are trying to make up for the lack in the cultural field with tools such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube has become clear.
When the demographic structure is analyzed on the basis of political affiliation, it is seen that some gaps are opened in the relationship of the authoritarian regime with its social base.
53 percent of the citizens defined themselves as belonging to the right-wing ideology that calls themselves nationalist-religious-conservative.
The rate of those who identify themselves on the left was 28 percent, and the rate of those who did not declare their belonging was 18 percent.
Regardless of which side of the ideological scale they adopt, both politically, economically and socially, it was concluded that the well-being of the citizens deteriorated. A similar situation has arisen when it comes to expectations for the future. It has been observed that right-wing citizens, like left-wing citizens, who can be assumed to be more affected by authoritarianism*, have problems in terms of their quality of life and expectations. The difference here is that right-wing citizens do not make a connection between the deterioration of their well-being and the responsibility of the government.
Political well-being of citizens: When trying to make sense of their interest in politics, the effect of political polarization on them, and participation in politics, it has been revealed that although politics is a big part of the agenda, the rate of active participation in politics remains quite low.
It has been observed that citizens in Turkey follow politics closely due to the tense politicization trend brought about by polarization, but they do not have a collective expectation, and they do not expect politics as a medium that will institutionalize the common good.
As a result of the research, it was seen that citizens’ trust in political institutions weakened.
The rate of those who stated that the general political situation in Turkey had a positive effect on their personal well -being was limited to 11.6 percent. The fact that this segment is well below the total vote rate of the ruling parties has been interpreted as the reason why the rate of those who feel ideologically committed to the government is gradually narrowing.
According to the data obtained, 84.5 percent of the citizens think that there is polarization among the citizens.
One of the striking figures obtained is that the rate of citizens who think that the government is responsible for polarization is 74.3 percent. This figure is extremely interesting for a country run by a right-wing government, where 53.1 percent of people define themselves primarily as nationalist-religious-conservative .
The authoritarian regime is seen by almost half of its base as responsible for polarization.
When the citizens participating in the survey are asked how they see Turkey’s future politically, the answer is important.
The rate of those who think that Turkey’s future is very bright or that it has a significant potential was limited to 16.2 percent.
The comment made in the report on this issue: The individualization of the relationship between politics and citizens and the dominance of the unorganized political structure.
Economic well-being was tried to be understood through questions asked to citizens about the effects of the economy on their lives, working regime and indebtedness.
64.6 percent of the citizens stated that the impact of the Turkish economy on their lives is negative.
The rate of those who state that the economy has a positive effect on their mental and emotional states is 12.2 percent.
In the report, this result was interpreted as showing that those who remained outside of a very small circle where the government found it appropriate to share the wealth of the country were increasingly excluded from democracy in economic terms and from the distribution of social wealth in general.
One of the striking pictures that emerged in terms of economic well-being is that 86 percent of citizens over the age of 17 and 44 percent of the society work full-time, but only 9 percent of the population has more income than their expenses.
This is seen as evidence of the existence of the phenomenon of “working poverty”.
A similar ratio has emerged in the case of being able to accumulate. The fact that only 11 percent of the society can save shows the income inequality between this group and the others and how the society’s capacity to come together around the common good has eroded.
The reason for this is explained that “unlike 11 percent, the overwhelming majority of the society has lost their potential to take actions that improve the well-being of themselves and those around them, such as getting rid of rent, living a debt-free life, and being able to cooperate with their relatives, without any future security.”
Another striking data revealed in terms of working conditions is that the rate of those who say that they can find a job under similar or better conditions if they become unemployed is limited to 18.2 percent.
This result, on the other hand, was interpreted as the remaining citizens had to accept working conditions regardless of their satisfaction.
The indebtedness ratios show that the majority of those in the working regime are in debt even if they are working full time. The rate of those who can protect themselves against indebtedness is only 18 percent. Almost half of the citizens stated that while they have difficulty in meeting their basic needs due to their indebtedness, they also have to stay away from their social life and hobbies.
According to the data, the rate of those who cannot meet their spouses and friends outside constitutes one third of the participants. An even more negative result is that more than a quarter of the population stated that their relationship with their family has deteriorated due to their indebtedness.
Well-being in terms of Social Relations
In order to understand their social relations, the citizens were asked questions about discrimination, the position of religion in society and the mood of the citizens.
61.5 percent of the society thinks that current social relations affect them negatively.
In this state of evil, the “family” is an important institution as a way of coping. Although there is a substantial amount of citizens who think that it affects their own well-being badly, the rate of those who think that the physical and mental relationships in their family affect them positively, found 51.8 percent.
Social Violence and Discrimination
It has been revealed that one of the important issues affecting well-being in terms of social relations is “violence against women”.
The number of people who accept the existence of an increase in violence against women has a high rate of 82.2 percent. 64.5 percent of the society thinks that the economic crisis is effective in the increase in violence against women and that the encouragement of violence against women by politics is responsible. This response is considered quite striking in that it shows the direct impact of political and economic issues on social life.
In terms of the development of authoritarianism in Turkey, the enmity and targeting of LGBTIQ+s as well as the moralistic attack against women were also evaluated.
It has been revealed that the society has not completely lost its common sense in this regard against all the attacks of the regime and its religious and ideological justifications. The number of those who think that violence and injustice is done to LGBTIQ+ people in Turkey is higher than those who do not agree with this statement.
When the participants were asked about the change in their and their relatives’ moods, 72.2 percent of them indicated their own and 65.9 percent of their relatives’ moods deteriorating.
When the participants were asked whether they felt lonely recently, 61.9 percent of the society felt lonely; it has also been observed that the number of people who think that they are excluded from the society in general or at some times has reached a serious rate. The rate of those who had anxiety and/or depression problems was 78.9 percent.
From the answers given to the questions asked about the state of the country, confidence and future expectations, it was seen that 72.4 percent of the society thought that the course was bad.
The rate of those who think that they are making good progress remained at 9.6 percent.
When asked who they see as responsible for the deterioration of the society, 61.1 percent answered the government.
Although these rates are a sign of hopelessness, the fact that 27 percent of the society still has the potential to participate in politics, nearly twice as many as currently organized; among the results reached within the scope of this study, it was stated as an issue that should be emphasized in terms of the citizens’ will to determine the fate of their own lives and to do it in a participatory way.
Feeling of Confidence
While 66.8 percent of the citizens stated that they felt more insecure compared to last year, the rate of those who stated that they felt safer was 10.5 percent.
When asked to what extent they feel economically secure, 68.5 percent of them said they felt economically insecure, while the rate of those who felt safe remained at 11.4 percent. This reveals the prevalence of feelings of insecurity.
From the answers given to the question, “Do you feel socially safe as a citizen of the Republic of Turkey?” it was seen that 63.3 percent of the citizens did not feel safe, and 36.7 percent of the citizens felt safe.
While 58.2 percent of the participants stated that they were completely hopeless about their future, 28.8 percent stated that they had no expectations from the future. The rate of those who are hopeful for the future is only 13 percent.
When all these figures are evaluated together, it is seen that the part of the society that is politically confident in the present and the future, is economically secure and seems satisfied with the course of social relations is limited to a ratio of 9 to 13 percent.
Considering all the conditions they live in, 16.6 percent of the citizens are satisfied with their lives, while up to 70 percent of the society is experiencing serious problems from time to time.
The report concludes, “The authoritarian transformation that has taken place in Turkey in the last decade has affected the well-being of citizens not only in terms of economic collapse, but also in terms of economic and social aspects.”
In the report, while the negative effects of authoritarianism lead citizens to unorganized and individualized solutions, the relatively high number of people who state that they may participate in political activities in the near future, and the recognition that discriminated groups such as women and LGBTIQ+s are being treated unfairly; it has been concluded that a policy focused on well-being may have the potential to form the basis for steps to be taken to build sociality by reconstructing a common good.
This shows that there is still hope for the future.