The Karagöz Puppets Respond to the Turkish People’s Profile Study


Infographic that profiles the Turkish population – based on a sample of 16,000 citizens. (Image from IPSOS KMG)

Have you seen the infographics from the Ipsos KMG Research and Consultancy Company’s study of the Turkish population?  If you haven’t, look at it here – it is worth checking out.  The puppets, who are now home from their sabbatical in Turkey, are fascinated by the changes in their homeland – although they are viewing everything from the lens of an Ottoman-era court.  The world is always surprising to them.

Yehuda Rebbe and Hacivad Bey, the Jewish and Sufi elder puppets, are particularly intrigued by the findings that 71% of the study’s participants report that they perform all of their religious duties.  “I wonder if that finding applies to people of all religions equally – even though 95-98% of Turkish citizens report being Muslim.”  Further, these puppets can be heard debating about whether this statistic is really accurate given the terrible state of affairs in many aspects of Turkish life “if we were all performing our religious duties, wouldn’t this nation be a kinder place, with less poverty, and more harmony? It’s enough to lead someone to atheism!”

On a different note, Esma and Safiye Rakkase are focused on the findings about women and headscarves – but for very different reasons.  Esma, the hippie puppet and ardent Kemalist feminist, is horrified that 37% of women are wearing the veils at home while 60% wear the headscarf when they go out of the house.  “What,” Esma yells to nobody in particular, “has happened to the legacy of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk?  He fought so hard to secularize our country, and actively encouraged the implementation of women’s rights.  While I believe he went too far in banning the veil, this amount of scarf wearing – IN THE HOME – feels excessive.”

Pouting, Safiye Rakkase (the vainglorious and apolitical dancing girl) has a different view entirely – she wants data on which scarf designers are most in favor.  “Why didn’t they collect data on designer labels,” she laments, “if you have to wear a veil, at least make it a stylish one.”

Making a rare appearance, Perihan Hanim, the fairy Godmother puppet, weighs in on the data which suggest that 69% of men and 57% of women believe that a husband’s permission for women to work outside of the home is necessary.  “This finding is saddening.  What does this say about human agency?  What does this say about our relationships in Turkey?  I know many a Turkish mother and/or father who did not raise her son to ‘run’ this kind of a marriage!”  I find this somewhat surprising from Perihan Hanim, given her shock at the lack of care I took of myself while on the tenure-track grind – you can read about her thoughts on that here.

Stepping out of the shadows, Bebe Ruhi, the puppet with Dwarfism who is a keen observer of the world, makes two astute comments.  “What is most sad about this infographic,” he says thoughtfully, “is the fact that 73% of the survey’s participants report never going to a concert – yet 84% report watching television as their major activity.  At least 62% report that most often, they are watching soap operas (televizyon dizileri) – which have some link to real life given subtextual and not-so-subtextual and metaphorical linkage to real life politics, social, cultural and otherwise! I mean, we know that Turkish soap operas are famous for changing the world for women!  We read about it on Al Jazeera!”

In listening to the puppets, I find myself reverting back to my area of expertise…the critique of research methods in the applied social sciences.  Here is what I have to say.  Data are powerful – and great to look at and think about – but they are only as good as their sampling technique.  I would want to know a lot more about WHICH 16,000 people were surveyed, how they were surveyed and how questions were asked before I bought this hook, line and sinker!

And that’s all she wrote, for now, anyway!

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This entry was posted in A Karagöz puppet battle, On Islam and Muslims, Turkish Controversies, Visits from the Karagöz puppets and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to The Karagöz Puppets Respond to the Turkish People’s Profile Study

  1. jolly joker says:

    Every country has the government it deserves! I didn’t say this quote obviously, it is from famous French philosopher Joseph de Maistre.

  2. The last paragraph, well said! It’s all propaganda and media control. Turkish people get ‘muslim’ automatically written on their birth certificate but that doesn’t mean they practice it. I’ve always had problem trying to understand why scarfed women, except some old folks, show more arrogant attitude, quite opposite to graciousness and kindness.
    I know a muslim woman, who believes in evolution and I have muslims who never show in public that they are so but are faithful to the religion.
    Turkish religion is being exploited and it’s not the right way to go, and I hope it will be stopped, peacefully…..

  3. lizcameron says:

    Thank you so much for writing! I too have had some of these experiences across the spectrum of Muslim practice…oh dear, where is the country headed?

  4. lizcameron says:

    Dear jolly Joker, it has been such a long time since you have commented – welcome back! This is an interesting quote. Why do you think turkey deserve this?

  5. Alan says:

    . . there are lies, damn lies and then there are (opinion polster’s) statistics. Based on this survey I guess that the bulk of those who do not practice their religious duties religiously are down in this corner of the country. It’s the same with scarves here in the village – many of the ladies wear them when they are working but you should see the glitter in their hair when they party!

  6. Jack Scott says:

    Being Muslim was more of a cultural identity than a religious one for most Turks I met. Turks were Turks above all else. But then, we did live in the most western-leaning town in the most western-leaning region of the country so isn’t typical! The slapping stat is interesting, don’t you think?

  7. lizcameron says:

    Agreed about the locational difference. Glitter, really? Wow!

  8. lizcameron says:

    This has been my experience as well, Jack. But then the family and friends of my husband are more the secular Kemalist folks… Agreed on the locational difference. Thanks for your comment!

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