Turks - Kinship, Marriage, and Family

Marriage and Domestic Unit. Marriage continues to be a very important institution in Turkey. From the time parents have their first children, thought is given to their eventual marriage. Some of the marriages that take place are "love matches," but most of them are still being "arranged." In villages, girls are still usually married at a young age. In rural areas, large transfers of wealth are often involved in the marriage arrangement. Turks often marry their first cousins and other close kin, under the incest laws of Islam, to keep control of wealth within the extended family; however, many marriages in Turkey today involve completely unrelated persons. Households in rural areas consist of a man, his wife, his adult sons and their wives, and his young children and grandchildren. In the city, households are usually smaller, being limited to the immediate family and paternal grandparents.

Socialization. Parents assume primary responsibility for raising children, and they are assisted by members of the extended family. The educational system of Turkey was modernized after the founding of the republic as part of an effort to Westernize the country. Today education is compulsory for children ages 6 to 14, and in 1991 it was estimated that 78 percent of this age group do attend school. Instruction is coeducational, and, in state schools, free. The literacy rate among persons 15 years of age and older was estimated in 1990 to be 81 percent. Religious instruction in state schools, having been prohibited when the republic was established and then later made optional, is now compulsory. There are not sufficient numbers of elementary or secondary schoolteachers or school buildings. Many schools have a morning and an afternoon session, and often the number of students in a class is greater than forty. Approximately 35 percent of high school graduates go on to higher education. In 1992 there were twenty-nine universities in Turkey.

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