Contemporary Turkish Youth as Subjects of State, Family, & Self: The Particular Case of University Students in Istanbul

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Repository Usage Stats



This thesis identifies the various processes of identity formation among contemporary Turkish youth, specifically urban university students. Turkish youth are situated at a crossroads between tradition and modernity—they strive to maintain Turkish tradition while working towards achieving full modernity. These youth, however, understand the paradox behind this challenge. If Turkey wants to achieve European modernity, it must first address issues of the past. This poses a problem because so much of Turkish culture is rooted in nationalism, the antithesis of global citizenship. Much of Turkey’s strength falls on this nationalism supported through a defensive military and decades-old ideology. Youth understand to raise Turkey to the status of a competitive global player, the nation as a whole must come to a consensus on what it means to be Turkish. This means reconfiguring the “collective identity” so it is representative of Turkey’s ethnic diversity. This reconfiguration would also necessitate a rewriting of Turkish history to include those who were marginalized from the very beginning.

Turkey’s tradition/modernity dichotomy is most visible through youth’s development of selves. Rather than give the illusion that these youth have whole identities, their anxieties in everyday life serve as visible representation of the discontinuity between their multiple senses of self. Using Michel Foucault’s notion of governmentality, I demonstrate how youth are subject to three sources contributing to their identity formation. I argue contemporary Turkish youth are subject to state, family, and global culture—three points of reference governing their everyday lives. The practices involving these three aspects of governmentality are: faithfully serving the interests of the state, fulfilling family obligations, and mirroring global culture in hopes of developing a more autonomous self and ultimately, contributing to a more developed, modernized Turkey.





Tsegaye, Salem (2010). Contemporary Turkish Youth as Subjects of State, Family, & Self: The Particular Case of University Students in Istanbul. Honors thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from

Dukes student scholarship is made available to the public using a Creative Commons Attribution / Non-commercial / No derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.