The Social Dynamics of Rumours in the Age of Risk and Uncertainty: The Relationship between Rumours, Risk, Uncertainty and Erosion of Social Trust in Turkey
Sociology Adnan Menderes University AYDIN, Turkey
Drawing on empirical research, questionnaires and in-depth interviews carried out in five Turkish cities from March to December 2008, this paper aims to chart «rumours» - particularly «earthquake related rumours» will be investigated in relation to the fragmentation of cultural authority, growth of competition for claims making by various groups, risk society and uncertainties that have been prevalent in the post 9/11 world in Turkey. The research addressed five main objectives: to find out patterns and causes of sudden rumours explosions; to examine the relationships between alternative sources of information, e.g. urban legends, rumour, gossip, risk society and erosion of trust and assessing how they affect each other; to understand the reasons of rumours spreading and emerging in post 9/11 world; to grasp the patterns of rumour construction and circulation, and, finally analyse the socio cultural impacts of rumour in Turkish society.
In the last two decades risk and uncertainties has become one of the most common futures of postindustrial Western societies. For this reason risks have become a focus for numerous contemporary research across the social sciences. In recent times non- Western societies too came to share the same outlook. For Beck (2005) in world risk society, non-Western societies share with the West not only the same space and time but also the same basic challenges of the second modernity. This thesis widely discussed, however very rarely tested using quantitative data. Departing from this perspective we aim to test some of the assumptions of risk society using empirical evidence gathered our fieldwork.
The paper suggests that Turkey has been rapidly becoming part of the world risk society and sharing numerous aspects and showing symptoms of it. There is another but quite parallel occurrence taking place that is the mass circulating rumours concerning a wide variety of issues. It is our intention to examine the nature and characteristics of rumours that currently occurring in unprecedented scale. Rumours, particularly the earthquake related rumours will be investigated in relation to risks, uncertainties and erosion social trust in Turkey.
*The author acknowledges the support of the TÜBITAK for the (project no 107K230).