Rural and urban family in Turkey




When individuals come to the world, they take the first socialization step with the family. Apart from its biological feature, the family is the first institution that prepares the individual for life in every material and moral sense. Changes in societies affect the family completely. With industrialization, fundamental changes have occurred in the family during the real transition from rural to urbanization.

Features such as extended family, father’s authority, close kinship relations, adherence to traditions, determined work division, glorified boy, and girl accustomed to serving men can be listed in relation to rural life that exists with a patriarchal structure in Turkey. With the industrialization and the beginning of the working life of men and women together, the characteristics that have changed in urban life such as nuclear family, equal husband-wife relationship, weakening kinship connections, and more free-raised children can be listed.

Considering these characteristics, it can be examined under the headings of rural and urban family size, economic structure, authority relations and the position of the child in Turkey.

Family Size

According to the evolutionary sociology approach, the change of the family takes place by adapting to the progressive tendency of social change. Accordingly, families will transform from the classical large and large rural structure to a small nuclear structure “.(Canatan,Yıldırım,2013:132)

“The transition from the traditional extended family to the nuclear family was born from social evolution and was inevitable”.(Yörükoğlu, 2000:48)

While the rural area consists of a crowded family where three generations live in a middle, with urbanization, the family turns into a nuclear family, including mother, father and child. With urbanization, the family has become smaller and kinship relations have weakened. In rural areas, generally together with the father’s family (grandmother and grandfather). and the number of children is higher than in the city due to the unconsciousness of birth control methods and the role of the male sovereign. Since having a boy has become a symbol of power, they have had children until they have a boy. Families have become aware of birth control methods. And with this, changing economic conditions have led the family to downsize.

Economic Structure

The Turkish society and their families, which have been making a living based on agriculture and animal husbandry for years, have started to migrate to the city in order to benefit from the job opportunities provided by industrialization, with the difficulty of economic rules. The population of the village decreased, the elderly remained behind in the village. As the elderly could not continue their production activities, the production in the rural areas decreased. Life in the city is more precious than in the village. The efforts of keeping up with the city life have caused people to envy others and earning more and consuming more has turned into a symbol of prestige in the society. Although the income increases, the high costs (education, transportation, rent, food, beverage, clothing, etc.) negatively affect the urban life in terms of economy.

“The rapidly melting rural area and the agricultural part did not allow the government’s policies to keep agriculture alive, develop and scientifically. When the attractiveness/pluses of the city are added to the repulsiveness/problems of the countryside, Turkey first met with urban poverty factually and then theoretically. The poor of the city, which are added to new ones every day, always enlarge the pot of social aid. However, while the possible wealth of the city attracts rural people to the city, the social aid networks that provide livability in the city also connect the poor to the city in a sense. (Kartal and Demirhan , 2014:137)

“Statistics on poverty in Turkey show that rural poverty is worse than urban poverty in terms of both scope and depth”.(Kartal and Demirhan ,2014:142)

Authority Relations

“In a traditional society, the family lived in a self-sufficient business and production unit. The house and its surroundings were a settlement where production was made, processed, worked and had fun. Except for the sale of the product, the connection of the family with the outside world was finite. The children were educated there, they learned the father’s profession there. He was the only judge in the extended family who did not go out of the word grandfather and was reluctant. He was a chief, a feudal lord, who ruled the family members as well as the income and expense of the house, not only ruled, but also charted their destinies. While social change broke up the large families in which three generations lived in one middle, the authority of father and grandfather also shook. and no one migrated to the city from the old generation who could not leave their homes. The ties in the middle of it loosened; on the other hand, equality within the family increased, children became more free”.(Yörükoğlu,2000:45-46)

“If the education level of the woman is higher than her husband, if the woman’s education level is higher than her husband’s, if she contributes independently to the family outside the home, and if it increases her husband’s social status, her authority within the family also increases. In this way, in families where female authority is seen, the father’s authority weakens or disappears, paternal protective qualities are weakened, and the woman’s patronage power increases. Although the authority in village families differs according to family types, it mostly belongs to men. In these families, the value and value given to women and men also change. Usually, the father comes first, then the boy, and the woman is in the second place. In the patriarchal extended family, the authority is the oldest male member of the family. and it is used by the oldest female member. In some large family structures, while the influence of elderly women on decision making is the subject of speech, women are given a little more rights in nuclear families.”(Kabaklı Çimen ,2008:350-351)

In the rural Turkish society where the patriarchal structure is effective, the man of the house has the word in every subject, while the woman is responsible for the service of the house. The last word about all the decisions about the mother and children belongs to the man of the house. Together with women, as they gained their economic freedom, they came out of the man’s command and started to stand on their own feet. However, the rule of doing everything the man said was shaken. Equal husband and wife ties developed. Women began to have words in the family. More importance was given to the education and choices of children. The transformation into a democratic family, which takes joint decisions as children, has begun. And children, who have started to be brought up more freely, have the opportunity to make their own free choices as individuals under the supervision of their parents.

Position of the Child

The symbol of the happiness of families in Turkish society is to have a child. Having a child is highly valued.

Prof.Dr., who carried out a comprehensive research on the place and position of the child in the family in 1980 under the name of the “Child’s Value” project. Çiğdem Kağıtçıbaşı, this study shows the value of children in various socioeconomic families in Turkey.

In the “Child’s Cost” research, in-depth interviews were conducted with 2300-odd married men and women in 42 provinces, districts and villages of Turkey in the 1970s. The results were analyzed according to the level of development of the region and demographic characteristics of the respondent such as education, occupation, age and gender. -It was found that the value attributed by the fathers and the expectations from the child show significant differences compared to all these characteristics. We can say that the basic findings and relations are largely valid today. The place of the child in the context of family relations and values ​​is a valuable indicator.”(Kağıtçıbaşı, 1993:31-32)

“In the study of the cost of the child, the economic cost of the child came to the fore in Turkey. In particular, as the development level of the region, family income, education and especially the education level of the woman increases, the mobility from rural to urban increases and finally the number of children in the family decreases, the overall economic value of the child becomes more important. With the same developments, the psychological cost of the child increases. That is, as the level of income, education, and mobility from rural to urban increases and the number of children in the family decreases, the child’s function of providing love and complementing the family gains value.”(Kağıtçıbaşı, 1993:34)

In rural areas, the boy is regarded as the continuation of the lineage. The father’s profession is taught. The boy is in the position of the authority of the house after the father. The girl is positioned to help the mother, housing works and serve. Today, mothers and fathers direct their lives according to their children’s future, invest in their education and adopt the conscious parent role based on love and respect.


In Turkey, the structure of the family has changed completely in terms of size, economic structure, authority relations and the position of the child during the period from rural to urbanization in Turkey. He started to work in clusters. And this, with the woman’s economic freedom, ensured that instead of father’s authority, equal husband and wife and equal right of speech in the family. The position of the child came out of the background in the rural section and became the center of the family in the city.


Canatan Kadir and Yıldırım Ergün, (2013), Family Sociology, İstanbul, Açılım Kitap Pınar Yayınları

Yörükoğlu Atalay, (2000), Family and Child in a Changing Society, Istanbul, Özgür publications

Kartal Nazım and Demirhan Yılmaz,(2014), On Rural Causes of Urban Poverty in Turkey and Analysis Proposals,C.U. Journal of Economics and Administrative Sciences,Volume 15,Number 2:135-154

Kagitcibasi Cigdem,(1993),Children in Social History / Symposium,Istanbul,History Foundation Yurt Publishing(1994)

Kabakli Çimen Latife, (2008), Women and Family in Turkish Customs, Istanbul, IQ Culture and Art Publishing