How To Understand The Role Of Family In Turkish Society?

In order to truly grasp the essence of Turkish society, one must delve into the intricate fabric of its familial bonds. The role of family in Turkish society is deeply rooted and holds immense significance. From the tight-knit relationships to the respect and honor bestowed upon elders, understanding the dynamics of family life in Turkey allows one to gain invaluable insights into the traditions, values, and social structure of the Turkish people. By exploring the unique customs and traditions of Turkish families, one can develop a deeper appreciation for the role family plays in shaping Turkish society as a whole.

Historical Background

Turkey, with its rich historical heritage, has been influenced by various civilizations and empires throughout its history. One of the most significant influences on Turkish society is the Ottoman Empire, which ruled over the region for more than six centuries. The Ottoman Empire’s influence on family structures and values can still be observed in modern Turkey.

Ottoman Influence

During the Ottoman period, the concept of family extended beyond the immediate household. The extended family played a crucial role in Turkish society, with multiple generations living together under one roof. This close-knit family structure fostered a sense of unity and provided a support system for individuals within the family.

Modernization Efforts

In the early 20th century, Turkey underwent a series of modernization efforts under Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s leadership. These reforms aimed to modernize and westernize various aspects of Turkish society, including family structures. As a result, some traditional family dynamics began to evolve, and new dynamics emerged.


The modernization efforts also led to westernization in Turkish society, which brought about significant changes in family structures and values. Western ideas and practices, particularly those related to gender roles and individualism, started to influence Turkish families. This shift towards westernization gradually impacted the traditional family structure in Turkey.

Traditional Family Structure

The traditional Turkish family structure was traditionally based on the extended family model. This model consisted of multiple generations living under one roof, including grandparents, parents, and children. Extended family members played an active role in the upbringing and well-being of children, creating a strong bond within the family.

Extended Family

The extended family system in Turkey emphasized the importance of family ties and intergenerational support. It provided a sense of security and ensured that everyone had a place within the family unit. The extended family members often shared responsibilities, including child-rearing, household chores, and financial support.


Historically, the Turkish family structure was patriarchal, with male family members holding authority and making decisions. The patriarch, typically the eldest male in the family, had significant influence and control over the family’s affairs. This hierarchical structure shaped the roles and responsibilities of family members.

Roles and Responsibilities

Traditional gender roles assigned different responsibilities to men and women within the Turkish family structure. Men were expected to be the providers and protectors of the family, while women played a central role in managing the household and raising children. However, these roles have gradually evolved due to societal changes and shifting gender dynamics.

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Changing Dynamics

In recent years, Turkish society has witnessed significant changes in family dynamics. These changes can be attributed to various factors, including urbanization, increased education, and women’s empowerment.

Nuclear Family

The traditional extended family structure is gradually giving way to the nuclear family model in urban areas of Turkey. The nuclear family typically consists of parents and their children living in separate households, often due to employment opportunities and the desire for independence. This shift impacts the dynamics of familial relationships and responsibilities.

Women’s Empowerment

Women’s empowerment has played a crucial role in reshaping family dynamics in Turkish society. With increased access to education and employment opportunities, women have become more independent and active participants in decision-making processes within the family. This empowerment has challenged traditional gender roles and increased gender equality within households.


The emphasis on education in Turkish society has also contributed to changing family dynamics. As more individuals pursue higher education, the importance of personal aspirations and career goals has increased. This shift has led to a greater focus on individualism and personal development within families, transforming traditional family dynamics.

Values and Beliefs

Turkish society is strongly influenced by various values and beliefs that shape family interactions and dynamics. These values emphasize collectivism, respect for elders, and the importance of honor.


Collectivism is a core value in Turkish society, placing importance on the well-being and harmony of the family as a whole rather than individual desires. This value encourages cooperation, interdependence, and a strong sense of loyalty among family members.

Respect for Elders

Respect for elders is deeply ingrained in Turkish culture and is an essential value within the family. Younger family members are expected to show reverence towards their elders, seeking their guidance and wisdom. This value fosters intergenerational relationships and preserves family traditions.

Importance of Honor

Honor holds great significance in Turkish culture, and families place a high value on maintaining their reputation and honor. Family members are expected to uphold moral values, behave responsibly, and avoid actions that may tarnish the family’s honor. This focus on honor influences family interactions and decision-making processes.

Religion and Family

Religion, particularly Islam, plays a significant role in shaping family dynamics and values in Turkish society. The influence of Islam can be observed in various aspects of family life, including religious festivities and ceremonies.

Islam’s Influence

Islam is the predominant religion in Turkey, and its principles and teachings have a profound impact on family life. Islamic values, such as piety, compassion, and generosity, guide family interactions and relationships. Islamic teachings also dictate marital relationships, parenting practices, and obligations towards extended family members.

Religious Festivities

Religious festivities, such as Ramadan and Eid al-Adha, hold great importance in Turkish society and bring families together. These occasions allow for the expression of religious devotion and strengthen family bonds through shared traditions and celebrations. Families often gather to worship, exchange gifts, and share meals during religious festivities.

Religious Ceremonies

Religious ceremonies, such as weddings and circumcisions, hold cultural and religious significance in Turkish society. These ceremonies are often elaborate and involve the active participation of extended family members and the wider community. They serve as opportunities to celebrate and strengthen familial ties while upholding Islamic traditions.

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Marriage and Relationships

Marriage is a significant milestone in Turkish society and is influenced by various cultural and societal factors. Traditional arranged marriages have coexisted alongside the increasing prevalence of love marriages. The dynamics of marriage and relationships continue to evolve, impacting divorce rates in Turkish society.

Arranged Marriages

Arranged marriages, although becoming less common in urban areas, still exist in some parts of Turkey. These marriages are often facilitated by parents or family members who seek compatibility based on factors such as social class, religion, and family reputation. While the consent of the individuals involved is essential, the primary focus is on the collective well-being of the families and maintaining social harmony.

Love Marriages

Love marriages, where individuals choose their partners based on emotional connections and personal compatibility, have become increasingly prevalent in modern Turkey. The influence of western cultures and changing societal norms has led to a shift in preference towards love-based marriages. Individuals now have more freedom to pursue relationships based on personal choice and emotional connection.

Divorce Rates

With the changing dynamics of marriage and relationships, divorce rates have shown an upward trend in Turkish society. Factors such as increased individualism, women’s empowerment, and changing societal attitudes towards divorce contribute to this trend. Divorce carries less societal stigma than in the past and is seen as a viable option for individuals in unhappy or incompatible marriages.

Parenting and Childrearing

Parenting practices in Turkish society are influenced by traditional values, religious teachings, and societal changes. Parents strive to instill discipline, filial piety, and education as key values in the upbringing of their children.

Filial Piety

Filial piety, or respect and devotion towards parents and elders, is deeply rooted in Turkish culture and plays a central role in parenting practices. Children are taught to honor and obey their parents, seeking their guidance and support. Filial piety fosters strong familial bonds and is seen as a moral obligation that continues even after children have grown up and established their own families.


Discipline is an important aspect of Turkish parenting, aiming to shape children’s behavior and instill moral values. Traditional disciplinary practices often involve strict rules, clear boundaries, and a hierarchical approach that imparts respect for authority. However, modern parenting approaches may incorporate more flexible and democratic methods of discipline.


Education is highly valued in Turkish society, and parents place a strong emphasis on their children’s educational achievements. Parents support their children’s education by providing resources, encouragement, and guidance. Education is seen as a means to personal and professional success, enabling children to contribute to their families and society.

Economic Factors

Economic considerations significantly impact family dynamics in Turkish society. Family businesses, inheritance practices, and financial support systems play a crucial role in ensuring financial stability and maintaining family ties.

Family Businesses

Family businesses have been an integral part of Turkish society for generations. These businesses often pass down from one generation to another, strengthening familial bonds and providing opportunities for collective success. Succession in family businesses is a significant consideration, ensuring the continuity of the family enterprise and providing employment opportunities for family members.


Inheritance practices are influenced by traditional customs and Islamic principles. Inheritance laws prioritize the fair distribution of assets among family members, with male heirs generally receiving a larger share than female heirs. However, societal changes and legal reforms have aimed to address gender disparities in inheritance practices.

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Financial Support

The importance of financial support within the family cannot be overstated in Turkish society. Families often provide financial assistance and support to one another, particularly during times of need. This support system strengthens familial bonds and ensures the well-being of family members.

Interactions within the Family

Interactions within the family are characterized by specific communication styles, family events, and gatherings that promote unity and shared experiences.

Communication Styles

Communication within Turkish families often involves a balance between directness and deference towards elders. Respectful language and tone are emphasized, highlighting the importance of maintaining harmony within the family. Elders often play a central role in decision-making processes, and their opinions are highly respected.

Family Events

Family events, such as weddings, circumcisions, and religious celebrations, are significant occasions for Turkish families. These events bring extended family members together, strengthening bonds and fostering a sense of collective identity. These events often involve elaborate preparations, feasts, and traditional customs that showcase Turkish culture.

Family Gatherings

Regular family gatherings, such as Sunday meals or holiday celebrations, provide opportunities for the extended family to come together and maintain social connections. These gatherings reinforce familial ties, allow for the sharing of experiences and stories, and provide emotional support. Family members actively participate in these gatherings, contributing to a sense of unity and belonging.

Challenges and Adaptations

Turkish society faces various challenges and adaptations due to urbanization, migration, and globalization. These factors have influenced family dynamics and brought about changes in traditional practices.


Urbanization has significantly impacted family structures and values in Turkey. Migration from rural to urban areas has led to the breakdown of the extended family model and the rise of the nuclear family. The demands and opportunities of urban life have challenged traditional family dynamics and brought about new ways of living and interacting within families.


Migration, both within Turkey and from other countries, has influenced family dynamics in Turkish society. The influx of migrants has brought different cultural perspectives and practices, leading to a multicultural society. These interactions and adaptations contribute to the diversification of family structures and values in Turkey.


Globalization has had a profound impact on Turkish society, particularly through the influence of Western culture and values. The exposure to global media, technology, and ideas has challenged traditional family structures and norms. The increasing individualism, changing gender roles, and cultural exchange resulting from globalization have influenced how families interact and navigate societal expectations.

In conclusion, understanding the role of the family in Turkish society requires recognizing the historical influences, traditional values, and changing dynamics that shape family structures and interactions. The impact of Ottoman influence, modernization efforts, and westernization can still be observed in family dynamics. Traditional family structures based on extended families and patriarchal systems have experienced shifts towards nuclear families and greater gender equality. Values such as collectivism, respect for elders, and honor remain deeply ingrained in Turkish culture. Religion, particularly Islam, plays a significant role in guiding family dynamics through religious festivities and ceremonies. Marriage practices range from arranged marriages to love marriages, and divorce rates have increased with societal changes. Parenting practices prioritize filial piety, discipline, and education. Economic factors, such as family businesses, inheritance, and financial support, contribute to family stability. Communication styles, family events, and family gatherings maintain familial bonds and foster a sense of unity. Challenges and adaptations brought about by urbanization, migration, and globalization continue to shape and redefine Turkish family dynamics.