Changing Middle Class and New Life Syles

Start date: Ekim 2013
End date: Ekim 2015
Supporters: Tübitak

Beginning with the 1960s, social scientists have observed the emergence of a “new middle class’ in western societies. In Turkey, the composition of the middle class began to change from the 1980s onwards and a ‘new middle class’ emerged throughout the 1990s. But the interest of Turkish social scientists in the topic has been relatively low. Contemporary studies have attested to the significance of the changing demographic composition in Turkey with its young population and to the growing importance of the middle classes relative to the wider society in our fast-transforming country. Entitled “Changing Middle Class and New Life Styles” our proposed project aims at contributing to this important field of study on middle classes.

Existing scholarship on middle classes usually focus on the profiling of the middle classes and conduct quantitative research, hence produce mainly descriptive studies. Data obtained by means of quantitative research techniques result in analytical categories which do not correspond well to real life cases. This project aims at attaining an analytically solid analysis by means of research conducted using qualitative methods and by designing a two-staged modeling which will rely upon data gathered from fieldwork, which will better reflect contemporary realities of the middle classes in Turkey. Taking Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of habitus and recent studies of lifestyles by German social scientists, fieldwork for this project will concentrate upon the following fields of scholarly inquiry: the construction of kinship and social relations; cultural practices and aesthetic sensibilities; consumption practices, use of technology and means of differentiation; religious beliefs, practices and ethnic leanings; political participation, assessments and attitudes; future dreams and expectations. We aim to see whether there are changes in the life styles in the new middle classes corresponding to the changes in middle class compositions during the last 20 years of social transformation.

This project will provide a multi-dimensional sociological analysis and conceptual contribution to studies of middle classes with the help of analytical tools that it will design and put to use. This study will generate unique and original conceptualizations and classifications that properly reflect contemporary social realities. Its results will lead to acceptable generalizations. Researchers will use a broad range of techniques such as in-depth interviews, focus group interviews, participant observation and discourse analysis; and statistical data will also be included. Data gathered from fieldwork will be analyzed by means of correspondence analysis. Thus, we will try to demonstrate life styles specific to new middle classes in Turkey. The results of this research will be beneficial to decision and policymakers at all levels in their making of social and economic policies.

Keywords: Middle Class – New Middle Class – Lifestyle –Correspondence Analysis – Pierre Bourdieu

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