9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN33 Women's and Gender Studies

2009-09-05 09:00:00 2009-09-05 10:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 09:00 - 10:30 The Role of Gender in the Democratisation Process at European, National and Local Levels Building II, C4.01

Women, Family Status and Class Position: Cases of Locally Notable Families in Provincial Turkey

In this paper, we aim to elaborate on the interviews we want to interpret the women's narratives from the e-raf (locally notable) families based on a recent joint research project (Ay?e Durakba?a, Gül Özsan, Meltem Karada?; funded by TUB-TAK) Women's narratives contained important data about e-raf families as a social status group. Interviews with women of these families reinforce the status-markers in relation to the domestic activities and other festivities with public significance. Women were engaged in building relationships with the local governing elite, the newcomers to the town, and their families. They functioned as representatives of family status. They were active in the formation and development of the social capital and building of appropriate marriage ties by the maintenance of social equivalence in the marriages. They stressed the importance of rituals such as weddings, how and where they are conducted and what kind of a recreation is preferred. Thus, even though the foundations and symbolic characteristics of the e-raf and being from the e-raf are rooted in a male structure, women played primary roles in all relations with the similar status families and different status families, that is, in the realization of class practices, in general. Women from historically earlier families and what might be called as the old eshraf emphasized their distinct social status indicators in manners, and codes of etiquette and social respectability in relation to how they regard their wealth and advantaged social position and very clearly differentiated themselves from the new eshraf who have more recently appeared as economically powerful families at the local setting.

The biographical stories related by these women, from the rich and notable families of the provincial towns, suggest significant keys in relation to the construction and realization of modernization and nationhood at the local level as well as the specific context about the particular town and province. Besides, the narratives also illustrate how the provincial e-raf perceive themselves in comparison to the bourgeoisie of the metropolis such as "stanbul" and "zmir" and inform the examplary life styles followed by these women and their families.