Helpfulness in cities and towns : the relationship between urbanization and social behaviour in Turkey
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The present research evaluated the generality of urban social behaviour findings in a new cultural setting - in Turkey. The nature of four types of social behaviour was examined. A field study was carried out in Turkey in order to compare the level of helpfulness shown towards strangers in towns, cities and squatter settlements within the city, while a survey study examined the nature of various aspects of kin, friends' and neighbours' social, behaviours across these Turkish environments. The results showed differences in social behaviour between the two environments depending on the type of relationship involved. First, urban residents held less trusting and helping attitudes and were significantly less helpful towards strangers requiring assistance. Second, social relationships between neighbours were also significantly less frequent amongst urban residents. The degree of social behaviour occurring between kin and friends did not differ between the two environments, although certain aspects of kin and friendship in the city were different: kin members in the city were found to be geographically dispersed, and friends of urban residents were drawn from a larger social pool. These results from Turkey suggest that urban social behaviour relationships may indeed be a general phenomenon. These results offer a perspective from which to evaluate the nature of the impact of urban living: urban living influences only the social relationships of a less important, less familiar and intimate nature; in other words, relatively situationally dependent kinds of behaviours are affected by urban living. Examination of social behaviour within the Turkish city environments showed the existence of local environments which differed considerably in their social behaviour. Most interesting in this regard are the squatter settlements of Turkish cities whose residents showed attitudes and a level of pro-social behaviour equal to that found in towns and significantly greater than that found amongst the rest of the city residents. This supports the view that the city squatters may be in a psychological and social sense "urban villagers". Consistent and considerable differences in social behaviour were also found between other types of city districts. Some of these districts came close to the towns and squatter settlements in their levels of pro-social behaviour, suggesting, first, that the city environments are not homogeneous in terms of social behaviour and there is a complex interplay between a multitude of influential factors, so urbanisation alone is not an explanation of social behaviour; second, drawing distinctions between environments in terms of their behavioural characteristics is best done with the concept of a social-environmental continuum rather than an urban/non-urban dichotomy. Altogether, the present research suggests that the overall urban environment influences only certain kinds of pro-social behaviours which are more situationally dependent such as those involving strangers and neighbours. This influence does not occur in a homogeneous way, but is mediated by social characteristics of environments and residents. Environmental input level was, overall, found to influence the level of helpfulness: the higher the environmental input level, the lower the level of helpfulness for female subjects but not for male subjects in Turkey. Analysis of the input level across environments studied did not always correspond to the observed level of helpfulness in these environments. It was argued that the input level, as suggested by Milgram (1970), is not the only explanation for social behaviour; there must be other variables mediating this effect, ie socio-cultural factors. As an additional concern, the present study investigated sex differences in helpfulness. There were sex differences in helping toward strangers in Turkey: males were significantly more helpful than females towards strangers in helping contexts (free from high cost, threat, and required no masculine orientation) that the earlier researches reported no sex differences'. This showed empirically the influence of the culture on sex roles in Turkey. Finally, a theoretical question; the nature of the relationship between the source of help and the type of helpfulness was evaluated empirically. An association was found between the type of helping act and the source of help an individual sought: costly types of assistance were associated with kin, friends were a source of help for assistance requiring intimacy, while neighbours were associated negatively with cost and intimacy in assistance.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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