Engelli Üniversite Öğrencilerinin Akran İlişkileri Üzerine Nitel Bir Araştırma
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This study, which aims to reveal the experiences of university students with disabilities through the lens of social capital, focuses on their friendship relations, disability and having a disabled body, the role of family in friendship relations, campus life, and friendship relations during the pandemic. A qualitative research design was used to describe and understand the friendship relations of disabled university students in the university environment through social capital. The purposeful sample of the research consists of 12 (sight and/or orthopedic) disabled youth (between 18-24 years old) studying at a university. The participants were identified and recruited through the snowball technique. The in-depth interview technique was used in the data collection process, and semi-structured interview forms were used during the interviews. The interviews had to be held online due to the measures taken (e.g. lockdowns) during the pandemic. The data were analyzed thematically. The themes revealed in the research showed that the participants explained the meaning of friendship through cooperation, social support, trust, similarity, sharing space and feelings, unity and togetherness. They evaluated the initiation and maintenance of friendship relations through space and cooperation, acceptance, spending time together and social support. The use of expressions such as inadequacy/deficiency, being sick in their interpretation of disability and being disabled indicates that the negative cultural definitions of disability in the society continue in friendships. Living away from family to study at university is a step towards independence from family. While offering new opportunities for intimacy for the disabled youth, the pandemic also renders the risks of weakening friendship relations, that is, not being able to access social support or having limited access to it, visible. In terms of socialization, families of young people with disabilities support their participation in social life by not interfering with their friendship relations or respecting their decisions, rather than prioritizing family belonging. The university environment contributes to their growth to become stronger individuals by experiencing both positive and negative aspects of their disability and coping with the challenges.