Similar backgrounds Essay
Through my study of twelve semi structured interviews, I obtained a great deal of qualitative data concerning personal views and perceptions, about how they would like to bring up their children in order to continue with their Turkish identity? It raised questions such as, whether it’s important to be bilingual? How they learnt to talk English? Whether their households were predominantly Turkish speaking? etc (See questionnaire in appendix). I found many of my respondents shared comparable experiences and adopted similar attitudes.
This I felt resulted from similar backgrounds. For example those who were born in Turkey/Cyprus had far stronger values on their children to learn Turkish, practice traditions, etc, than those who were born here. Many of their reasons for this were also analogous; they want their children to have the advantage of being bilingual, to be able to communicate with elder members of the family and most importantly to ‘remember their mother tongue and recognise their roots’ (Fatma Jemal).
Those who were born in England I found, tended to adopt a ‘lighter’ approach to the ‘importance’ of continuing or wanting their children to continue with the Turkish identity e. g speaking Turkish. However, the limitation to this may just show the coincidental majority of views, resulting from an unrepresentative sample. For example, my sample may be full of the ‘least religious’ Turkish people, who in fact may be ‘very English’ i. e. speaking English at all times and not knowing any Turkish.
However, this certainly does not mean all Turkish people who were born or live in London, act upon this way. I may have needed translators in a larger scale sample, for those who could speak very little English. The generalisation of Turkish people from London, having a greater sense of being ‘English than Turkish’, therefore may not all be true. In fact I did come across one lady who was born in London, however appeared as having an even stronger identity than those who weren’t. One reason being, ‘ I feel I have to try even harder in maintaining my identity.
Speaking Turkish is a way for me to do this. ‘ (Yasemine Menevilli). I found from my research that men whether born in England or in Turkey/ Cyprus, supported the same responses on wanting their children and grandchildren to continue with the Turkish identity and to value and respect their roots. Again this may be an unrepresentative sample. Women majorily feel that way too. However, they tended to give the strongest of opinions i. e. ‘I was brought up this way, so my children will be’ (Ertan Mehmet) and admitting to ‘coming down hard’ on their children to do so.
This brings to surface some gender differences, whereby Turkish women (from my sample) seemed to be more excepting than the men; who adopted an aggressive patriarchal view and speaking Turkish at home or publicly was a way to show this. In retrospect, it is clear that my original choice of topic (Has the Turkish community loss or continued with their identity? ) although sociologically relevant, was far too broad to investigate successfully, so deciding to break it down and focus on one aspect; language, was appropriate.
There seemed to be a sense of a heterogeneous Turkish community, where a diversity of answers was given. Some were homogenous in the view it was important to continue with the Turkish identity, while some were less concerned. A class issue aroused from this. Those who came from middle class backgrounds tended to be anglicised, portraying more of an ‘English identity’ than their own. This was achieved by having an English partner for example, speaking English at home etc. Those belonging to the working class community however adopted a stronger patriarchal view and succeeded more in maintaining their identity.
They were the group who tended to put their children into Turkish schooling, expressing Turkish rituals and festivals etc. This evidently proves the working class community have a greater value towards family and keeping the solidarity of their community than that from the middleclass. This however, may be effected by location factors. The working class tend to live close by in the same communities, yet those belonging to the middle-upper working classes are polarised and more geographically mobile, making that cohesion difficult. The family are great influences that help maintain identity.
Children who lived occasionally with grandparents and had a better affiliation than those who didn’t, tended to speak Turkish fluently and value the Turkish Identity stronger. This was mainly because those older family members, who were unable to talk English, communicated to their grandchildren by talking Turkish, where children had to and soon learnt. The passing of their strong attitude and values also affected this. Similarly to a research completed on Indians, some Turkish children also had a strong Turkish identity, however illustrated it adaptively.
When going to school or when surrounded by English peers, they tended to wear a ‘white mask’, in which their Turkish identity was disguised. However, when getting home, fluent Turkish is spoken, Turkish food eaten, Turkish music listened to etc The Turkish community is changing. A sufficient number of Turkish people aren’t learning Turkish, through formal teaching or from families, many are in interracial relationships and seem to lack the determination to want to continue with their identity.
This notably correlated with the increasing number of Turkish people born in England; those born in England are polarised from their original ethnic roots and so slowly loose strong ethnic ties. Most of their families have moved to England and a lot aren’t marrying Turkish people. The lack of marriages of both Turkish partners definitely has had some effect on the Turkish identity, where children normally adopt one or the other. And so the continuation of the Turkish community and identity is questioned. Limitations Generally, the problems that I encountered were ones that I did fortunately anticipate.
I expected some lack of cooperation from respondents and some answers to be directed when getting too broadened and generalised. A problem that I did encounter, which infact I was quite glad to have come across, was the refusal of co-operation from one lady, once I asked whether she would like to participate in my coursework. This may I suspect have been down to suspicion. I am aware newly arrived immigrants may feel cautious to why I was asking such questions about their identity and may refuse to co-operate on this matter. This have may been the case with the lady I came across.
Thus, if I did practice this research on a larger scale sample, I would be ready to resolve the problem by showing a form of id. Conversely, what I did in the rest of the duration in my sample was to try and avoid further circumstances like this, by simply explaining what I’m researching for. I overcame practicalities such as transport, time and venue, by attending my schools annual open evening, whereby a quiet comfortable classroom with a working and educational atmosphere was used and tea/ coffee offered to help improve the rapport in the short time we had together.
I also felt being Turkish myself, as well as adding some of my experiences benefited the interview, as a sense of recognition and understanding was shown. I felt I chose the appropriate method, semi structured interviews for qualitative data, as I was able to deal with feelings and emotions to gain a valid response. However, I feel my sample was not large enough, for me to give a representable piece of data, which I could comfortably generalise about the Turkish community.
Twelve candidates were not enough to validate my coursework and the fact that many respondents were given similar answers may have not been becasue of similar experiences, but maybe the generalisations of my questions, or even the coincidental similar views from people in my sample. Although limited, I feel my project has produced some valid and moderately reliable and representative data, but more importantly factors which I would need to be aware of and able to overcome in advance to improve the quality of it.
However, overall I did feel I gained an answer to my question, but not that of an apparent one. There is some evidence that the Turkish identity has and proudly continued on living in England, but that the correlation of this view were largely from those that were born here, i. e. The respondents who weren’t born here often said they wanted to emigrate back to Turkey/Cyprus when reaching retirement. However, if a larger study was produced I may even be proven wrong and by chance could have picked individuals who had this view who were coincidently born in London.
I feel this may be the case, as again using myself as an example, my mother who was born here shares the same values and like to consider herself and us as still remaining faithful to our identity, as my dad, who was born in Turkey. I wouldn’t do much to improve my study, as most of the problems I came across were inevitable through my size sample and ones that I anticipated. I would however, have got one other Turkish boy, to conduct the study with me, interviewing the male respondents and vice versa.
After conducting my research I did feel I might have over interpreted too much and felt I would need to have taken a more neutral approach when interviewing. I felt my questions overall were relevant and helped me understand and drive towards my aims of what I wanted to find. I felt by me using a conversational approach, relaxed the respondents and made it seem less of an interrogation on their perceptions. Through this I felt I got a lot more out of it, than using a simple question and answer adjacency pair technique. I used a very comfortable venue (my school classroom) and most participants were interested in the coursework I was doing.
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 10 July 2017
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