Sosyal Kimlik Kuramı Bağlamında Bireylerin Kimlik ve Aidiyet Tanımlamaları: Kocaeli Kafkas Kültür Derneği Örneği
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This study intends to contribute increasing literature on identity and ethnicity with a focus on Circassian identity that roots back to more than one hundred years in Turkey. Circassian identity is one of the major ethnic groups in Turkey that existed since 1800s. In the literature, Circassians are referred many times as “the ethnic group that adopted to current cultural norms in Turkey perfectly.” Such general perception towards Circassian ethnic identity necessitates to investigate Circassian people’s definition of their social identity and its transformation in time. This study draws from social identity theory to examine construction and transformation of Circassian identity. Identity is defined in the literature via multiple characterizations. In one definition identify is individual or group’s definition of themselves in addition to their positioning themselves among other individuals and groups. At the same time identity embraces individual’s social perception of identity that is developed within the group that individual is born into. Within this context identity consists of historical, biological, psychological, anthropological and sociological components. All these components constitute ethnic identity that is also socially constructed. This study presents an examination of Circassian ethnic identity referring to social identity theory. This thesis is composed of three chapters presenting theoretical framework, historical background and analysis of the findings derived from field study. In the theoretical part, social identity theory is presented and evaluated through its concepts and propositions. In the historical background, Circassian exile is investigated through its reasons and results as a significant tragedy shaping Circassian ethnic identity. Last part presents the field study and findings derived from interviews with members of Kocaeli Caucasian Culture Association. Individuals’ identity and belonging definitions are also examined through social identity theory in this part. The study presented the factors behind Circassian’s success in preservation of different cultural practices in years although lacking knowledge of Circassian language as a strong binding cultural component among them. The data on these findings are also analyzed through social identity theory.
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