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!