Data Analysis and Evaluation in International Relations

Methodological Literature Review

The fundamental question of my study is whether the Turkish public`s discourse about Syrian refugees is still humanitarian or it has become securitized. This literature review analyzes three articles that evaluate the related subjects to my research. In this paper, I attempt to understand the methods the authors used to reach their findings and show what they are missing. In the second section, I will try to present my methodology based on this methodological literature review. For my dissertation, I will analyze the Turkish public discourse between 2014 to 2918. However, for the purposes of this paper, I will only present my short-time feasibility study. The last chapter of this paper will present the feasibility study that covers July 19th to August 19th, 2016 of my discourse analysis.

The first article I analyze in this literature review is Burcu Togral Koca`s Syrian Refugees in Turkey: from `guests` to `enemies` article. According to Koca`a article, even though the Turkish officials use humanitarian language and liberal policies towards the refugees, both the Turkish government and the public have framed the refugees in the security framework. Koca applies the discourse analysis to provide a better understanding of both the Turkish officials` and the public`s discourse about Syrian refugees by analyzing both the discursive and non-discursive practices. Her analysis includes three independent variables: (1) the Turkish government`s liberal policies towards Syrian refugees, (2) the dramatic increase in the number of Syrian refugees, (3) the Turkish government`s unmatched expectations about the Syrian civil war. The dependent variable in her analysis is the securitization of Syrian refugees in both the Turkish public and government.

For the discursive practicing, the author analyzes the official statements and media sources. Koca does not actually explain how she analyzes the official statements. Instead, she only provides the results – the Turkish government officials have defined the refugees as `brothers and sisters in religion,` `friends,` and `guests.`[1] In addition to the analysis of the official statements, the public and media discourse analyses on Syrian refugees demonstrate that Turkish society believes that the refugees have increased the crime rate in Turkey.[2] Koca supports her claim by providing qualitative and quantitative field researches about Turkish society`s perception of the refugees. In addition to the crime rate, the author also draws attention to the Turkish society`s concerns about the labor market. Koca presents quantitative data from a field study shows that it is believed 40 % to 100 % of the local people in areas where more Syrian refugees live, lost their jobs.[3] According to Koca, the Turkish government`s liberal policies created a backlash among Turkish society. She indicates her claim with a field study shows that Turkish society does not support the government`s policies towards the refugees. According to the same fieldwork, the Turkish public believes that free education and healthcare are the state`s benefits only belong to the Turkish citizens. Therefore, Syrian refugees` access to free healthcare and education escalates the public`s animosity toward the refugees.[4] However, I believe that the field researches can only explain the discourse in the cities where the researches took place. Therefore, her data only provides the local people`s perceptions about the refugees, rather than the whole Turkish society. Since she is claiming to analyze the discourse and the perception of Turkish society about the refugees, I think that it is necessary for her to extend her data.

For the non-discursive practicing, the Turkish government`s policies towards the refugees, legal documents about the refugees, non-profit organizations` reports from the refugee camps, and the Turkish government`s militarized border practices in the Turkey-Syria border. Koca divides the government`s attitude towards the refugees into two-time periods.  The first period is the government`s humanitarian policies towards the refugees such as `open door policy` and the implementation of the temporary protection regime which started at the beginning of the Syrian civil war. The second period is the security policies towards the refugees which started when the officials came to see that the Assad regime would remain its power and because of that, the refugees would not return to Syria.[5] To support her argument, the author provides some academic researches and quotations from some authors who support her reasoning. The author also provides the Turkish government`s border practices as qualitative data to show the government`s securitization of the refugees. She illustrates her argument by saying that the Turkey-Syria border is highly militarized with minefields, walls, barbed wire, military personnel, and military vehicles.[6]  However, even though the military activities in the region can be understood as government`s threat perception in the Turkish-Syrian border, it is not clear that what the government is perceiving a threat from. It can be the refugees, the Syrian government, Kurdish militants, or ISIS. In contrast to her article, I will elucidate how I generate my data in the next section.

The second article I analyze in this literature review is Muzeyyen Pandir, Ibrahim Efe, and Alaaddin F. Paksoy`s A Content Analysis on the Representation of Syrian Asylum Seekers in the Turkish Press. Pandir et al attempt to analyze the representation of Syrian refugees in Turkish media. This analysis covers the publications of news reports, columns and visuals in five national newspapers in 2014 – Hurriyet, Sabah, Posta, Sozcu, and Zaman. Pandir et al. focus on the themes used to describe the refugees rather than single words. Authors apply to Content Analysis technique and Decoding System to analyze the media discourse on the refugees through a media monitoring agency`s database.[7] Pandir et al. use the qualitative method of inductive content analysis that requires the researchers to gather data and information and analyze the news reports, columns, and visuals. Authors asked the questions: (1) what kind of themes the Turkish media use about Syrian refugees – humanitarian concerns or threat perception; (2) how often the characteristics of the representation themes used during the time period of the research.[8] Pandir et al. applied Philip Bell`s description of content analysis which requires the categorization of the keywords that answer the research questions and determine the values of the categories. Authors determined the possible words that the newspapers might use about the Syrians such as ` Syrian refugees, ` `Syrians, ` and `immigrant. ` After determination of the words and their values, Pandir et al. organized two separate coding table with the codes designed by four researchers, determine the criterion. As a result, the authors collected and coded 388 context and 174 visuals.[9] According to the study result, the Turkish media commonly talk about the problems of Syrian refugees in Turkey. Second most common theme the media used on Syrian refugees was to help announcements.[10]

According to the study, while the media discourse on Syrian refugees in 2014 was positive and neutral, there was also the ambivalence in the representations of the refugees.[11]  However, analyzing the media discourse would be misleading for Turkey`s case since the Turkish government has extended its control over the media. In other words, I think that both the positive and negative discourse about the refugees depend on the political views of the newspapers and the relationship between the newspapers and the government.[12] Therefore, the language the newspapers use about the refugees cannot show us the whole Turkish society`s perception and discourse about the refugees.

The third study I evaluate in this literature review is Senay Yitmen and Maykel Verkuyten`s article Feelings towards refugees and non-Muslims in Turkey: The Roles of national and religious identifications, and multiculturalism. Since the societies are always stratified by the hierarchy of the power relations between majorities and minorities,[13] the level of securitization in the host society towards the refugees fluctuates depending on the groups` already existing threat perception of their identities. Yitmen et al. make a comparison with the Turkish public`s feelings towards the refugees and three officially recognized non-Muslim minorities in Turkey – Greeks, Jews, and Armenians.[14] The hypothesis of the paper is that higher Muslim identifiers are more negative toward non-Muslim national identities than toward Muslim refugees.[15] The authors claim that people tend to reject groups whose beliefs are different from theirs.[16] The authors provide both already conducted surveys and their own public opinion survey to show the Turkish public`s perception of the refugees.[17] The authors focus on a survey conducted by a research company in 2015 among 605 Turkish Muslim participants.[18] The participants were from the cities that have the largest number of Syrian refugees – Istanbul, Gaziantep, Antalya, Adana, Samsun, and Kilis.[19] The participant of the survey includes the majority and the Muslim minorities in Turkey –  Turks, Kurds, Zazas, and Arabs.[20] Surveyors asked six scale based questions to respondents to analyze the religious identification and the national identification of the participants. The respondents were expected to rank the sentences below from 1 to 5 in terms of their feelings. The statistical method used to analyze this survey was the factor analysis with maximum likelihood and oblimin rotation.[21] As a result of this analysis, it is shown that while the people emphasize their national identities have more negative feelings towards the Muslim refugees, people who identify themselves with their religion have more negative feelings toward non-Muslim minorities in Turkey.[22]

Small size survey data can be easy for the researchers, but it is hard for surveyors to reach a large number of participants. The survey in the article includes 605 participants among 79.91 million Turkish population. In addition to the small sample size, surveys cannot even reach the people in every city. When the researcher is interested in the perception of society, I believe that it is crucial to see every part of society. For instance, Yitmen et al.`s survey was conducted in only six cities in Turkey while there are 81 cities. Furthermore, the refugee population in each city varies. Therefore, I think that the small size surveys can be misleading for this analysis.

In conclusion, all three articles share the purpose, while the first two also share the dependent variables of this study as well. Since this paper attempts to focus on methodologies, I tried to show that neither of above-mentioned studies was successful in achieving large data would indicate Turkish society`s language and the perception about the refugees.

Methodology

I am aiming to conduct a discourse analysis on discourses of Syrian refugees in Turkey. As an interpretive researcher, I will use this discourse analysis to emphasize the power of language. This analysis will rely on an in-depth analysis of the speeches of the Turkish president who is also the leader of the governing party and the representatives of the three opposition parties in Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM) to provide a variety of evidence of the operation of causal mechanism about the Turkish public discourse and its securitization process. For the purposes of this study, I will argue that the Turkish public discourse about Syrian refugees has become more securitized.

I decided to focus on these leaders because they all represent some part of Turkish society. While the government`s party represents the conservatives in Turkey; the main opposition party, Republican People`s Party (CHP), represents the Alevi, Kemalists and social democrats. On the other hand, the third party in TBMM, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), represents the nationalist Turks, and the fourth party in TBMM, People`s Democratic Party (HDP) represents the Kurds and the leftist Turks.

The independent variables of this study have similarities with Koca and Pandir et al.`s variables. As mentioned below, Koca`s independent variables are the Turkish government`s liberal policies towards Syrian refugees, the dramatic increase in the number of the refugees, and the government`s unmatched expectations about the Syrian civil war. The first variable overlaps with one of the independent variables of this study. When it comes to Pandir et al.`s article, the authors emphasize that the newspaper articles separate the `us` from `them. ` It is known that not all Syrians have the same economic and social difficulties in Turkey. Nonetheless, the newspapers do not differentiate the refugees from each other since they have the same aspect of being refugees. In other words, the newspapers ignore their differences and see them all the same. The most common theme the newspaper articles use about the refugees is that they are all in need and while Turks are `us`, the refugees are `them. `

For my thesis, I will analyze the Turkish public discourse about the refugees from 2014 to 2018. However, for this feasibility study, I decided to only analyze one month that can help me with my future thesis. When I take into account all the significant events about the refugees happened since 2014, I realized that the most important one was President Erdogan`s announcement on July 3, 2016. Erdogan announced that some Syrian refugees would be granted Turkish citizenship.[23] Therefore, I decided to analyze the month after this statement. Since I use the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM)`s archive as one of my sources, the time span of this study must be from July 19th to August 19th, 2016 which is the first period after the announcement in that legislative year.  I will not only use the TBMM`s archive but also press conference and government statements to gather speech transcripts of the leaders of the four political parties in TBMM. I achieved the press conference speeches of the leaders in their parties` websites.

I will download the speech transcripts and upload them into Atlas.ti to see the Word Cloud of the speeches. Having done that, I will read the speeches where the leaders mentioned the refugees and the policies about them. Subsequently, I will make an Excel chart that includes the dates, the leaders, and the number of themes they used to mention the refugees and the refugee policies.

Feasibility Study

As mentioned in the previous section, I will apply the discourse analysis in the speeches of the four leaders of the political parties in TBMM. I went to TBMM parliamentary minutes` website and the websites of each political parties to download the speech transcripts. To capture the time span of this study, I have downloaded the 26th period of the first legislative year, from 115th parliament session to 128th parliament session which covers the time-period I was aiming to analyze for this feasibility study. Then, I uploaded each parliament sessions into Atlas.ti to see where the leaders mentioned the refugees or the refugee policies.

I achieved the speeches of Kilicdaroglu and Bahceli, but on the other hand, I could not access Erdogan and Demirtas`s speeches. In the period that I analyzed the leader of AKP was the ex-prime minister of Turkey, Ahmet Davutoglu. However, I decided to analyze President Erdogan`s speeches instead of Davutoglu since Erdogan is the linchpin of the AKP. Hence, Erdogan was no longer the leader of AKP, I had to look for his speeches on the President of the Turkish Republic website to access his speeches.

The president made only 5 speeches in the time-period I analyzed. I used the Word Cloud on Atlas.ti software to see whether President Erdogan talked about the refugees. It is seen that President Erdogan only used humanitarian language about the refugees. In the speeches, he talked about the refugees, Erdogan uses the phrases such as `humanitarian crisis, ` `hosting the refugees, ` and `open doors. ` It is also seen that President also criticized the Western Countries` refugee policies while he emphasized that the Turkish government spent $12.5 billion on the refugees. One can see that President Erdogan mostly talked about the failed coup attempt of July 15th, 2016 and the Kurdish Issue, rather than Syrian refugees. Even when the president talks about the terrorist attacks happened in 2016, he puts the blame on the ISIS and the PKK, rather than his `Open Door` policy towards the refugees. When it comes to the Syrian Crisis, the President blames the Assad Regime and its allies. In other words, he does not make a connection between the attacks and the refugees.

The second leader I analyzed whom language about the refugees was the leader of the CHP, Kemal Kilicdaroglu. After uploading his speeches on Atlas.ti, I came to see that among all four leaders, Kilicdaroglu is the one who mostly talked about the Syrian crisis, the Turkish government`s foreign policy towards Syria, and the refugees in Turkey. He blamed the Turkish government, its `Open Door` policy towards the refugees, and its support to ISIS before ISIS started attacking Turkey. Kilicdaroglu claimed that the government`s `open door` policy towards the refugees created a security gap in the Turkey-Syria border.

The third leader I analyzed whom speeches was the leader of MHP, Devlet Bahceli. He only made 7 speeches from July 19th to August 19th, 2016. Bahceli also mostly talked about the July 15 failed coup attempt, the Syrian Crisis, and the Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETO). One can see that Bahceli blames the US and the other global powers about the Syrian civil war and Turkey`s domestic chaos. While he used the humanitarian language about the Syrian people both in Turkey and Syria, he also emphasized that the Syrian civil war is a danger for Turkey.

I was also planning to analyze the leader of HDP, Selahattin Demirtas`s speeches. However, it was the most difficult for me to achieve his speeches because of the nature of his political party. HDP has a unique leadership perception compare to the other political parties in Turkey. AKP, CHP, and MHP have the leadership culture and the loyalty to only one leader. Nonetheless, HDP has an equalitarian understanding of each member of the political party. In other words, HDP is against to have one and only leader that the other party members can obey. Therefore, in their website, all the speeches made by both the co-leaders and the members of the party are in the same section without speech transcripts. In other words, I had to eliminate my analysis into three leaders to finish my paper in the schedule.

First, one can see that this paper affirms that Pandir et al.`s analysis of the presentation of the refugees as `others. ` In the article A Content Analysis on the Representation of Syrian Asylum Seekers in the Turkish Media, the authors acknowledge that the newspaper articles use `help` and `threat` themes the most about the refugees. While Pandir et al. concludes the article by saying that the newspaper articles present all the refugees the same who are separate than the Turkish society, my analysis shows that the leaders of the political parties in TBMM address the refugees as they are all the same. In other words, the leaders see the refugees as `people in need` and `people are the threat to Turkish society. `

Secondly, the third article I presented in the literature review, Feelings towards refugees and non-Muslims in Turkey: The Roles of national and religious identifications, and multiculturalism can explain the criticism of Kilicdaroglu. It is seen that the only party leader criticized the Turkish government`s refugee policies is the leader of the main opposition party (CHP), Kemal Kilicdaroglu. Since MHP is the coalition partner with the government`s party, Devlet Bahceli mostly supports the government`s policies. Yitmen et al. attempted to analyze the level of threat perception in Turkish society. As a result, the authors argued that the threat perception of the group of people in a society fluctuates depending on their dominant identity. In other words, while the group identifies themselves as religious, they feel insecure from the non-religious groups than the nationalist groups. While the supporters of the main opposition party are the Alevi and seculars, the Syrian refugees mostly are Sunni Arabs.[24] Therefore, Kilicdaroglu and his advocates feel ontologically more insecure from the refugees than the Sunni population in Turkey. In sum, Yitmen et al. explain the reasoning behind the criticism of Kilicdaroglu.

My findings surprised me since I expected to see more speeches about the refugees during the timeframe. The reason I focused on the August-September 2016 was that I thought that President Erdogan`s announcement about the granting Turkish citizenship to the refugees would get more reactions from the opposition parties. However, I encountered that the focus of the leaders shifted from the refugees to the July 15th, 2016 failed coup attempt, and the following decision of the state of emergency. In other words, this feasibility study showed me that the politicians had different issues to discuss in the time-period I analyzed such as the failed coup attempt and the state of emergency in Turkey. Therefore, I could not achieve enough data to create an Excel chart since the refugees were on the back burner.

On the one hand, this study made me realize that analyzing the party leaders` discourse from 2014 to 2018 would take less time than I thought if I only analyze Erdogan, Kilicdaroglu, and Bahceli`s discourse. On the other hand, my thesis would take a lot longer than I thought if I want to analyze all four leaders` discourse about the refugees since it was difficult to get access to Demirtas` speeches. With the help of this feasibility study, I also realized that not only data accessibility but also the conjuncture of Turkey and the Middle East at the time of my research affect my schedule. For instance, when there are more critical issues going on domestically or regionally such as Kurdish issue, FETO, and ISIS, the analysis of that time-period shortens.

Bibliography

AKParti.org, https://www.akparti.org.tr/site/haberler/arsiv/genel-baskandan/1/tarih/2015/08/19 (Accessed December 11, 2018)

Bozorgmehr, Mehdi and Anny Bakalian, and Sara Salman, Host hostility and nativism in Routledge International Handbook of Migration Studies edited by Steven Gold and Stephanie J. Nawyn. Oxon: Routledge, 2012.

El-Samra, Siba. Municipal Responses to Syrian Refugee Inflow to Lebanon: Studying the Impact of Religiopolitical Affiliations on Policy. Cornell University, 2015.

Erdoğan’ın Açıkladığı ‘Vatandaşlık’ Düzenlemesinin Ayrıntıları Ortaya Çıktı. CnnTurk, July 3, 2016, https://www.cnnturk.com/video/turkiye/erdoganin-acikladigi-vatandaslik-duzenlemesinin-ayrintilari-ortaya-cikti

Koca, Burcu Toğral. Syrian Refugees in Turkey from `guests’ to ‘enemies`? Eskişehir: New Perspectives on Turkey and Cambridge University Press, 2016

Mhp.org, http://www.mhp.org.tr/htmldocs/genel_baskan/1551/konusmalari/ Devlet _Bahceli_2015_yili_konusmalari.html (Accessed December 12. 2018)

Pandir, Muzeyyen et al. A Content Analysis on the Representation of Syrian Asylum Seekers in the Turkish Press. Istanbul: Marmara Journal of Communication, 2015.

TBMM Konusmalari, CHP.org, https://www.chp.org.tr/arama/5ad84d4587 047e133396a14b (Accessed December 12, 2018)

Turkiye Buyuk Millet Meclisi Baskanligi, TBMM Meclis Tutanaklari, https://www.tbmm.gov.tr /tutanak/tutanaklar.htm

Yitmen, Senay et al. Feelings toward refugees and non-Muslims in Turkey: The roles of national and religious identifications, and multiculturalism. Utrecht: Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 2017.


[1] Burcu Toğral Koca, Syrian Refugees in Turkey from ‘guests’ to ‘enemies?’, (Eskişehir: New Perspectives on Turkey and Cambridge University Press, 2016), 62.

[2] Ibid., 63.

[3] Ibid., 69.

[4] Burcu Toğral Koca, Syrian Refugees in Turkey from ‘guests’ to ‘enemies?’, (Eskişehir: New Perspectives on Turkey and Cambridge University Press, 2016), 68.

[5] Ibid., 63.

[6] Burcu Toğral Koca, Syrian Refugees in Turkey from ‘guests’ to ‘enemies?’, (Eskişehir: New Perspectives on Turkey and Cambridge University Press, 2016), 62.

[7] Ibid., 8.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Muzeyyen Pandir, Ibrahim Efe, and Alaaddin F. Paksoy, A Content Analysis on the Representation of Syrian Asylum Seekers in the Turkish Press, (Istanbul: Marmara Journal of Communication, 2015), 9.

[10] Ibid., 21.

[11] Ibid., 2.

[12] Ibid., 20.

[13] Mehdi Bozorgmehr, Anny Bakalian, and Sara Salman, Host hostility and nativism in Routledge International Handbook of Migration Studies edited by Steven Gold and Stephanie J. Nawyn, (Oxon: Routledge, 2012), 189.

[14] Senay Yitmen and Maykel Verkuyten, Feelings toward refugees and non-Muslims in Turkey: The roles of national and religious identifications, and multiculturalism, (Utrecht: Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 2017), 90.

[15] Ibid., 91.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Ibid., 92.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Ibid., 93.

[21] Senay Yitmen and Maykel Verkuyten, Feelings toward refugees and non-Muslims in Turkey: The roles of national and religious identifications, and multiculturalism, (Utrecht: Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 2017), 93.

[22] Ibid., 90.

[23] Erdoğan’ın Açıkladığı ‘Vatandaşlık’ Düzenlemesinin Ayrıntıları Ortaya Çıktı. CnnTurk, July 3, 2016, https://www.cnnturk.com/video/turkiye/erdoganin-acikladigi-vatandaslik-duzenlemesinin-ayrintilari-ortaya-cikti

[24] Siba El-Samra, Municipal Responses to Syrian Refugee Inflow to Lebanon: Studying the Impact of Religiopolitical Affiliations on Policy, (New York: Cornell University, May 2015), p: 12.

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