Yörük - Sociopolitical Organization

The Yörük are not recognized as part of the formal political structure of Turkey, although, historically, tribal entities and leaders were used for purposes of taxation, conscription, and administration. Each person is registered as a resident of a designated town or village.

Social Organization Yörük social organization is closely focused on ties of kinship, with an emphasis on patrilineal descent. Because the Yörük practice close-cousin endogamy, their matrilateral relatives are apt to be members of their own lineage. Egalitarian ideology is strong; there are no hereditary leaders or elite families, although, in practice, wealth differentials are important in determining relative influence.

Political Organization. Traditional political organization stresses consensual decision making by adult male heads of household. Each tribal segment usually has an informal leader, called an aga, who acts as a spokesman and often mediates disputes but has no jural authority. Alliances and factions are strongly correlated with lines of descent, even within tribes and lineages. Superimposed on the tribal, kin-based system is the highly centralized Turkish national administration. Thus, each Yörük, villager or nomad, is a member of a settlement or neighborhood headed by a muhtar (headman), who reports to a kaymakam (district officer), who is appointed, as are provincial governors, by the state.

Social Control. The state maintains effective control through a nationwide gendarmerie and police. Within the Yörük communities, the practice of intekam (vengeance) is a powerful means of controlling violence; assaults of any kind on the person or character of another may bring retribution from a circle of male kin responsible for collective honor. The fear of gossip is also a powerful force for social control.

Conflict. Vengeance disputes, confrontations among youths over family honor, and conflicts over marriages (or arising from elopement and bride-theft) support the impression of a fairly high level of violence, even homicide.

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