Barriers in Achieving Social Cohesion: A Qualitative StudyEdip Aygüler, Sema Buz, Bekir Güzel
Turkey currently has a large number of asylum applications from asylum seekers demanding international protection and expecting to move on to third countries. The number of asylum seekers in Turkey increased dramatically following the mass immigration of refugees from Syria in 2011. This situation has led to some conflicts between the local community members and asylum seekers. It has become evident that all asylum seekers under international protection status and local community members should develop a mutual social cohesion process. To understand how to make social cohesion more successful and to reveal the deficiencies in existing social cohesion activities, semi-structured, in-depth interviews were conducted with 17 NGO professionals and 15 non-Syrian asylum seekers. Taking a phenomenological approach, the resulting interview data were analyzed using the MAXQDA 12 program. Four themes emerged: (1) how participants define social cohesion; (2) how the insufficiency/deficiency of existing social cohesion activities affect social cohesion; (3) local community member factors that hinder social cohesion; and (4) asylum seeker factors that hinder social cohesion. The results suggest that, in order for social cohesion efforts to succeed, comprehensive cohesion policies must be developed and cooperation among stakeholders must be increased. It was observed that it is important that social cohesion activities are conducted with the equal participation of all parties, they are constructed on similarities across the groups, and planned in such a way that prejudices are reduced and cohesive neighborhood living is realized.
Sosyal Uyumun Başarılmasının Önündeki Engeller: Niteliksel Bir ÇalışmaEdip Aygüler, Sema Buz, Bekir Güzel
Türkiye, çok sayıda sığınmacının uluslararası koruma başvurusu yaptığı ve üçüncü ülkelere gitmek için beklediği bir ülke konumundadır. 2011 yılında Suriye’den Türkiye’ye doğru gerçekleşen kitlesel göç hareketinden sonra ülkedeki sığınmacı sayısı iyice artmıştır. Bu durum yerel toplum mensupları ile sığınmacılar arasında birtakım çatışmaların çıkmasına sebep olmuş ve uluslararası koruma statüsü altındaki Suriyeli olmayan sığınmacılar başta olmak üzere tüm yabancıların yerel toplum üyeleriyle eşit düzlemde bir sosyal uyum ilişkisi geliştirmesi gerekliliği ortaya çıkmıştır. Bu noktada başarılı bir sosyal uyumun nasıl olabileceğini anlamak ve sosyal uyum amacıyla yapılan mevcut çalışmalardaki eksiklikleri ortaya koymak adına, Ankara’da sığınmacılara hizmet sunan çeşitli sivil toplum kuruluşlarında çalışan 17 meslek elemanı ve bu kurumların ikisinden hizmet alan 15 Suriyeli olmayan sığınmacı ile yarı yapılandırılmış derinlemesine görüşmeler gerçekleştirilmiştir. Bu görüşmeler MAXQDA 12 programı aracılığıyla fenomonolojik yaklaşımla analiz edilmiş ve dört tema ortaya koyulmuştur. İlk temada öznelerin sosyal uyumu nasıl tanımladığı, ikincisinde mevcut sosyal uyum faaliyetlerinin yetersizliğinin/ eksikliğinin sosyal uyumu nasıl etkilediği, üçüncüsünde yerel toplum üyelerinden kaynaklanan sosyal uyumu zorlaştıran durumlara ve sonuncusunda sığınmacılardan kaynaklanan uyumu zorlaştıran etmenlere yer verilmiştir. Çalışma sonucunda sosyal uyum çalışmalarının başarılı olabilmesi için kamu tarafından kapsamlı uyum politikalarının geliştirilmesi ile paydaşlar arasında iş birliğinin arttırılmasının gerekli olduğu tespit edilmiştir. Sosyal uyum çalışmalarının tarafların eşit katılımıyla gerçekleştirilmesinin, benzerlikler üzerinden kurgulanmasının, ön yargıları azaltacak şekilde planlanmasının ve bir arada yaşanılan muhitlerde gerçekleştirilmesinin önemli olduğu görülmüştür.
The Republic of Turkey is geographically situated as a bridge between Asia and Europe. Because of this, the country is host to many asylum seekers with international protection status. Over the past ten years, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of asylum seekers, making the establishment of social cohesion between local communities and asylum seekers a necessity. This study was carried out with professionals from non-governmental organizations that work with asylum seekers. The aim of the research was to define the concept of social cohesion and, by addressing current practices and challenges, to determine how successful social cohesion can best be carried out. Semi-structured in-depth interviews were held with 17 Ankara-based professional staff from a number of non-governmental organizations and 15 non-Syrian asylum seekers from two of these organizations. Taking a phenomenological approach, analysis was conducted using the MAXQDA 12 package qualitative research program. Four themes emerged as a result of this analysis.
Theme one, defining social cohesion, explores how professionals define and understand the concept of social cohesion. Theme two, the nature of existing adaptation activities, reveals the impact on social cohesion of a lack of or insufficient adaptation activities. Such activities are organized and run by institutions and organizations and this theme also explores the attitudes of those working in the field. Social cohesion is not a unilateral process. Therefore, theme three, situations originating in the local community, reveals how factors relating to local community members can hinder social cohesion, and theme four, situations arising from asylum seekers, reveals the characteristics and backgrounds of asylum seekers that directly or indirectly hinder social cohesion. The study concludes that there is insufficient cooperation between the public, civil society organizations, and local government. Local government services, projects, and budgets are inadequate to meet asylum seeker needs. In addition, social cohesion activities have been slow to start, are project-based, and are not sustainable due to the changing demands of funders. The research found that asylum seekers and local community members are not able to adequately participate in social cohesion activities.
Research participants discussed the role of marginalizing and discriminatory language in the media leading to inaccurate impressions of asylum seekers. They also noted that local community members do not have sufficient knowledge about asylum seekers and do not attempt to contact or befriend them, and that Turkey’s economic recession and the ambivalent attitude of the local community toward asylum seekers has made it difficult to establish social relations.
Despite the fact that many asylum seekers remain in Turkey for the long term, many exhibit poor motivation to learn Turkish. This is due to perceptions of Turkey as a temporary, interim, destination. Concerns about repatriation, and socio-demographic characteristics, such as gender, age, and education can also negatively impact social cohesion. The Turkish government currently does not have an asylum seeker social cohesion strategy. To increase social cohesion between local community members and asylum seekers, comprehensive social policies must be implemented, coordinating the work of public, local, and non-governmental organizations toward the goal of social cohesion. NGO activities that reduce prejudice and increase harmony are critical for social cohesion to persist and succeed. Therefore, NGOs should receive more support to undertake such work. When engaging in social cohesion activities, prejudices can be reduced by highlighting the similarities between asylum seekers and the local community. For increasing to communication between two communities funding organizations and holding events in neighborhoods where both parties live allows participants to interact with each other. Such activities should be beneficial to participants and reduce negative emotions. Organizers of social cohesion activities should bear in mind that greater understanding can be achieved when individuals engaging with peers from the other side and meeting people facing similar challenges in life.