|THE SOCIAL STRUCTURE OF TURKISH PEASANT COMMUNITIES|
ABSTRACT OF CONTENTS
This work is a report on field work in a village near Kayseri, on the Anatolian
plateau, carried out between November 1949 and August 1950. In view of the
lack of any such systematic account of village life in English, it has been my
aim simply to present an analytical description of the village.
Chapter I. - Historical and Political Background.
Central Anatolia consists of a plateau at about 3,000 feet, rising towards the
East, with a limited supply of rain severe winters and hot summers.
The westernisation of Turkey began during the nineteenth century with
attempts to borrow ideas and institutions from Europe, itself undergoing rapid
social change, and impose them by administrative action on a society to which
they were ill fitted. Some of the problems and contradictions of this attempt
were removed by the collapse of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World
War I. By his astonishing success in upsetting the Allied peace plans, and
driving out the occupation forces, Mustafa Kemal, later Ataturk, won
sufficient prestige and power to enable him to establish a Republic, to close all
Islamic institutions for learning and devotion, to abolish the fez, and to
introduce a Republican constitution, a complete legal code borrowed from
Europe, and a Latin alphabet. Westernising reform has continued in many
fields. Industry has been established, largely by State action, and since 1945,
Turkey has enjoyed political liberty and a democratic constitution.
Chapter II. - The Relation of Town and Village - General Administration
Social intercourse and contact between town and village in Turkey has been
and still is slight. After the establishment of the Republic, tax farming was
abolished, and a Village Law passed, containing a remarkable list of detailed
orders, many of which are ignored. To cope with illiteracy, the government
has founded, since 1939, a system of village Institutes for training village
children as village schoolmasters. The government has helped the peasants by
price stabilisation, by cheap leans and by providing seed. Administratively,
the country is divided into Provinces, Counties and Districts, each under a
centrally appointed officer.
|Chapter III. - Kayseri and Sakaltutan|
Kayseri is an important town of about 60,000 people, lying on main routes to
the east and south. Sakaltutan, the subject of this study, is a stone-built village
of about 640 people, about twenty miles east of Kayseri, on a road just
possible, except in winter, for motor traffic. The houses are simple, a few
being still caves. The living room is the womens sphere; some households
have special rooms (odalar) for the men to gather in. The technological
level is not much altered yet from traditional methods and implements.
Agriculture is the basic occupation.
Chapter IV. - Village and Households
The village is a compact and stable social and political unit, with a corporate
personality. It is divided into Quarters, but these, thought opposed to each
other, have no precise boundaries or communal activities or responsibilities.
The households consist of patrilocal families, ideally of three generations, but
in practice mostly of two. The village criterion of separation of households is
separate cooking. Households vary in size from two to seventeen persons.
Chapter V. - Kinship and Neighbourhood: Kabile and Oda
The main kinship group is the Kabile, a group of agnates descended from a
common ancestor, usually of about four generations in depth. Agnates are
often neighbours. The main function of the group is defence in quarrels and
fights. The senior member of a kabile has a vague responsibility and authority
over the members. The group helps its members in time of misfortune, and is
conspicuous on festal occasions. It has no formal organisation.
Patrilateral kin ties at a personal level are not characterised by rules or
formalities. Matrilateral and affinal kinship ties vary with the social and
physical distance between the partners, and are not, therefore, susceptible of
The guest rooms, odalar, play an important part in the social life of the
men. An analysis of the men attending the twelve oda in use in the village in
the winter of the 1949, shows that each oda was used by a core of close
agnates of the owner, and that in several of them large groups of matrilateral
kin and neighbours also congregated.
Chapter VI. - Kinship and Neighbourhood: Women and Inter-village Ties
|Cross-sex relationships occur only within the household of (with) close kin.|
Womens social relations are largely with other women. They do not have the
same loyalty to the kabile into which they marry as do the men who belong to
it by birth, and their day to day intimacy follows different lines, towards
neighbours and towards their own kinswoman. The pattern of a womans
personal relationships depends largely on her marriage, whether or not she
marries a kinsman, and whether or not she marries outside her natal village.
Inter-village kinship is mainly matrilateral and affinal. It has a different
quality from such ties within the village, since a kinsman in another village
provides a foothold among strangers. These inter-village ties are essential to
the functioning of other inter-village relations.
Neighbourhood ties are of the same sort as kinship, providing close intimacy,
and hence kinship and neighbourhood sometimes overlap and reinforce each
other, sometimes work against each other. Personal friendships outside
kinship and close neighbourhood are rare, in the village, but do occur among
fellow soldiers or migrant labourers. There are no formal age groupings, but
age is treated with deference, and carries authority.
Chapter VII. - Men and Women
The work and function of men and women is divided, the men being
responsible for providing the main livelihood, for defence, and for contact
with the outside world, the women for the home, the children and all tasks
connected with the preparation of food. In practice, women do much that is
considered mens work, but men never do womens work.
Socially, men and women are segregated, and this segregation affects the
relationship of women with the few men they may associate with, since they
have no interests in common. Men have much greater prestige and authority
in the village. The whole system of sex relations is seen as consistent by the
village and is supported by religious authority. Sex morality is very strict.
Chapter VIII. - The Household
The central relation in the household is that of husband and wife. A girl goes
in marriage to the boys fathers house, usually as a complete stranger, and is
so regarded at first. Gradually, with the birth of children, she becomes
established until she is in turn the mother-in-law. Polygamy is now fairly
rare. A mothers relationship with her son is often the most important to her
in her life, but comes later in life. A girls relationship with her father and
brothers is strongest in childhood, and is then disrupted by her marriage, but
|remains important as her refuge and defence.|
Mother and daughter, and sisters are closely associated until the girls marry, a
heartbreaking event for the mother. The relations between mother-in-law and
daughter-in-law seem to follow prescribed rules and generally the adjustment
seems to be successful.
The men of the household are its permanent core. A father is proud of his
sons and expects to live off their labour. Brothers are the closest of all people
in the village. an elder brother has special authority, but economically
brothers should be treated alike. Normally, brothers divide their households
on their fathers death.
Chapter IX. - Marriage.
Marriage is arranged by the two fathers. After successful negotiations and
agreement on bride price, a special betrothal visit is paid by the boys woman
to the girls village or household, with gifts. The couple are not supposed to
meet during betrothal. The wedding last four days to a week, and the sexes
conduct their ceremonies separately.
A man may marry any girl from his fathers brothers daughter from next
door, to a stranger from up to twenty miles away. Both kin and stranger
marriages have advantages.
Bride price is usually from 300 to 500 T.L., and the size of the trousseau and
scale of the wedding is related to the size of the bride price. A widow may
return home, or may stay with her husbands family. Brothers often inherit
widows. A wider remarries as soon as possible. Divorce, although simple for
a man, is not common.
Chapter X. - Political and Administrative Organisation
No one family in Sakaltutan holds political power, though this may be the case
in some villages. The muhtar is elected and changes frequently. He is
generally a young man, has no internal influence, and is simply, now-a-days,
government clerk and spokesman. Equally, the Council of Elders no longer
consists of elders and does very little. The village publicly appoints herdsmen,
a watchman and an imam, and there was also a schoolmaster who was a local
man. The village is visited by a number of officials, all educated townsmen.
The officials generally have a paternalistic attitude to the villagers. The 1950
election was properly conducted and the village keenly interested.
|Chapter XI. - Land and Income|
Agriculture is basic. The winter is a slack time, the harvest occurring in July.
All cultivated land is privately owned, the rest is pasture and is communally
owned. Wheat and rye are the main crops, with fruit and vegetables to a small
extent. 60% of the households own between thirteen and thirty-four acres.
Holdings are divided into a number of small plots. The size of holdings per
household is declining with the increase of population, because children divide
their fathers land equally between them. Daughters sometimes take a share
with their brothers, sometimes they do not. A system of share-cropping is
found but the arrangement is always a temporary matter from season to
season. Ownership carries the right of sale. It is defined mainly by village
memory of acquisition and by use.
An examination of income from land and of essential outgo shows that about
forty acres is necessary for a household of average size, to provide not only
for substance, but for weddings and new buildings, and give some security
against bad harvests and other misfortunes.
Chapter XII. - Occupations and Services
Share-cropping and herding provide alternative sources of income for the
poorer villages. There is little casual labour in the village. Skilled craftsmen,
such as builders, carpenters, ironworkers, work in the villages, often as a
supplement to tilling their fields.
Some trade in animals and agricultural products goes on in the villages. Some
villages have shops, and craft needs are met partly on the spot. For a wide
range of articles and services, the villages are dependent on the towns.
Migrant labour provides an important part of the village income. Many
migrant labourers are skilled building trade craftsmen, who can earn up to
about £1 a day, others are unskilled, and earn less than half. The very poor
households tend to provide the unskilled, the better off households the skilled
migrant labour. Nearly all the men come home at least from December till
April, if not more frequently.
Chapter XIII. - Household Economics
The household is an economic unit, under the control of its head. A woman
may own land and this may give her more power in the house. Sons who earn
money in the towns should give it to their fathers. The men of a household
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