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Koc University Social Policy Center (KÜ-SPM)

 Contact details
Contact personMr. Emrah Göker
Senior Project Development Specialist 
StreetRumelifeneri Yolu, Sariyer 
Address 34450 - Istanbul (Turkey) 
Phone+90 (212) 338-1512 
 Organisation details
Employees (in Depart.)1-10 
Organisation TypeResearch Organisation 
 Research Focus

 Fields of activities:
» Area studies
» Cultural studies
» Economics
» Gender and sexuality studies
» Political science
» Psychology
» Sociology
» Education (incl. training, pedagogy, didactics)
» Social work

 Brief description of your activity focus
Koç University Social Policy Center aims to develop research and implementation projects on social policy and increase public awareness on social poli

 Details about Expertise / Competences / Technologies
Koç University Social Policy Center (KÜ-SPM) was established in April 2010. We began our journey with the aims of developing research and applied research projects on social policy and increasing public awareness on social policy issues in Turkey.

In Turkey the field of social policies is a vast arena where citizens frequently interact with state institutions, where service exchanges and the practical use of social rights occur. Yet it is also a space in which hierarchies, contention, unmet demands and inequalities reside. In KÜ-SPM, our purpose is to increase our accumulation of scientific knowledge and experience through field research, scientific meetings, cooperative implementation projects with stakeholders and policy analyses. We aim to strengthen the channels of communication on social policy issues between official institutions and policy-makers; advocacy, expert and other NGOs; service-receiving citizens and the academia. As social scientists interested in this field of inquiry, we value social policy-making based on scientific evidence and on the analysis of that evidence.

We can summarize what sort of research has so far been completed within our center with reference to the research topics of scholars in our executive advisory boards:

Types of employment, livelihood strategies, ways of dealing with economic crises in Turkey;
Citizenship capacities in terms of distribution of income and habits of tax-paying;
Gender inequalities, gender studies, participation of women in employment and other spheres of life;
Youth studies, education-employment transition in young people;
Factors influencing school access, attendance and success of children in basic education and secondary education;
Studies on the development of pre-school children;
Socio-economic exclusion;
Health reform, social security reform, social services and social assistance services;
Rights of people with disabilities and their social inclusion;
Urban sociology and urban transformation;
Irregular migration, refugees, internal displacement;
Communication, media technologies, social policy studies on the protection of intellectual property rights and of privacy rights.

Our research center is always open to collaborations of knowledge production and implementation with social policy-making and policy-implementing governmental bodies, other universities, municipalities, NGOs working on social policy-related issues, EU and UN institutions and other stakeholders.

Within KÜ-SPM, located in Koç University’s Rumelifeneri Campus, there are 7 social scientists ( Executive Board) and 2 researchers employed as administrative staff. In the near future, as new needs arise, we will be making announcements for employment opportunities for interns, MA and/or PhD students and post-doctorate researchers. You can still send us your CVs and research interests for future reference to ku-spm@ku.edu.tr.
 Research Activities

 International and national projects beyond EU Framework Programme

Project name: The Contributions of Cancer Risk Perceptions, Health Locus Of Control, and Spirituality on Likelihood of Engaging in Cancer Protective Behavior, Cancer Screening and Genetic Testing among Turkish Population” (TUBITAK funded research, 2011-2012)

In light of what needs to be done in terms of the elimination of cancer-causing risks and early detection of cancer, this study, in which Baruh and Kumkale are involved as researchers, aims to identify the psycho-social factors influencing behavior like not smoking, not consuming alcohol, exercising, eating healthy, getting regularly screened for cancer and getting genetic tests measuring proclivity to cancer. In the study, the effects of these factors on 3 types of cancer protective behavior, within the context of health locus of control, cancer risk perceptions and religious beliefs, are investigated: (1) health protective behaviors that can decrease cancer risk (not smoking, healthy diet, exercising and not consuming alcohol); (2) screening for cervical cancer, breast cancer and colon cancer; (3) genetic testing for susceptibility to cancer. Data for the study will be collected from a nationally representative sample of 2500 participants (women over 20 years and men over 50 years).


Project Name: “The Rights of the Disabled and Urban Citizenship: Actors and Dynamics Shaping the Lives of People with Disabilities in Istanbul” (TÜBİTAK funded project, 2009-2011)

This project investigates the relations between people with disabilities and Istanbul urban space in the context of actors, power dynamics, rights claims, legal applications and other similar mechanisms. Disability policies of local governments and recent processes of institutionalization are analyzed from the perspective of charity and rights-based approaches. When the scale and timing of local reforms are scrutinized, it is significant that these reforms represent some tendencies in the urban citizenship literature, yet deeper analysis shows that these often promote charity- rather than rights-based approaches. This is explained by the fact that the push factors in the emergence of these reforms do not originate from the disability movement. Findings of the research study are based on 40 interviews conducted with the representatives of civil society organizations working on disability issues.


Project Name: “Research on the Identification of Demographic, Social and Environmental Factors Causing Dropping Out in Primary Education” (TUBITAK funded research, 2011-2012)

This project by Cemalcılar, Gökşen and Çelik investigates the individual, social, cultural, economic and ecological factors affecting dropping out from compulsory primary school education in Turkey. Qualitative data for the study was collected from 1210 4th-grade students and their mothers at their homes. Additionally, in-depth interviews were conducted with 13 participants. The findings of the research study increases our knowledge regarding factors and processes that explain dropping out from compulsory education. Moreover, it also provides a rich resource to design intervention programs and policies to increase school attainments.


Project name: “Construction of Cultural Boundaries: Relations Between Cultural, Socio-Economic and Moral Status Symbols in Turkey” (TUBITAK funded research, 2011-2012)

The research, encompassing 18 months, aims to identify meaningful clusters of cultural consumption, life style and moral values in Turkey. The relationships such clusters and sociological variables, such as social class, gender and age are also investigated. The study is one of the most systematic projects in Turkey in the field of culture. During the fieldwork, 49 in-depth interviews and a survey study with a nationally-representative sample of 2000 were completed.

Based on the analysis of the survey data, three main cultural clusters were identified. The first group, named “engaged omnivores”, represents people who embrace both the local and the global in terms of taste and choices of cultural participation. They tend to be younger, more educated, higher income, and more secular in orientation. The second group, dubbed “engaged localists”, is critical of global/Western culture. They tend to be older, more middle income and not as well educated as the omnivores. The last group we call the “disengaged”. They express a lack of knowledge of, or disinterest in, global/Western culture. Disengagement is more common among the lowest income, least educated and the more religious. Local cultural taste and participation forms rarely distinguish groups, attesting to the robustness of Turkish culture. Cultural boundaries seem to draw mainly in relation to global/Western cultural forms.


Proje Name: “Comprehensive Evaluation Note on Girls’ Technical and Vocational Schools” (research funded by Education Reform Initiative, 2011)

In this research, Girls’ Technical and Vocational Schools (GTVS) are assessed in terms of increasing girls’ enrollment and women’s participation in the work force. The evaluation note, based on eight focus group studies conducted with GTVS graduates and students in Istanbul, Denizli, Mersin and Kayseri, discusses the issues of vocational training, training based on a single gender and transition from education to work life. Additionally, the report analyzes Turkish Statistical Institute household survey data on the employment of women who are GTVS graduates.


Project Name: “Citizen Perceptions in Turkey On Taxation, Representation and Democracy” (research funded by Open Society Turkey and Boğaziçi University Research Fund, 2009)

The research study was carried out, between 2008-2009. It is the first comprehensive research project that measures the perceptions and level of knowledge of Turkish citizens on matters related to taxation. In the first phase of the study, a statistical analysis of who pays what amount of income tax was completed, using TURK-STAT’s Household Budget Survey data. Secondly, the study included a survey of 2.400 citizens (representative of the Turkish population) on taxation issues and the relation of those issues to citizenship and democracy. This way, the causes of paying and avoiding taxes, for the Turkish population, is analyzed.


Project Name: “Working Gendered Citizenships in Turkey” (Middle East Research Competition-funded project 2011-2012)

This research has explored the everyday organization, implementation and results of two civil society initiatives, which target women’s empowerment and increased labor force participation, via programs facilitating small business ownership. The study aims to contribute to scholarly investigation in the fields of gender and development and women’s entrepreneurship by linking these to emerging practices of citizenship. It focuses on the relationship between gendered meanings of entrepreneurial work and consolidation of neo-liberal policies. The research is based on periodic participant observation in the programs, over twelve months and twenty-five in-depth, structured interviews with program participants.


Project Name: “Citizenship Tourism: Approaching Transnational Citizenship Through Turkish Citizens Giving Birth in USA” (TUBITAK-funded research, 2012-2013)

This research investigates the changing meanings and experiences of citizenship, by focusing on the case of families in Turkey, who travel to the United States with the sole purpose of giving birth and acquiring US citizenship for their children. The project explores the ways in which citizenship becomes a product bought and sold in the market, contributing to class and cultural distinctions and to the flexibilization of acquisition of social rights. The research is based on in-depth interviews with forty such families and analysis of their web-based blogs and bulletins of companies who provide service to them.


Project Name: Coming to Terms with Forced Migration: Rebuilding Citizenship in the Wake of Internal Displacement in Turkey (TESEV-funded research, 2004-2005)

This research study, whose field work was completed in Diyarbakır and İstanbul in 2005, investigated the social exclusion experienced by internally displaced Kurds. The study focused on the discrimination and exclusion encountered by Kurdish adults in their work life and daily life, and by Kurdish children in the schools where they have re-enrolled. The findings were based on in-depth interviews conducted with members of 50 households.


Project Name: “A Demographic Survey of African Migrants in Istanbul” (MIREKOC-funded project, 2006)

This project aimed to draw a demographic profile of African migrants in Istanbul and locate their migration patterns within the framework of population flows between Africa and Western Europe. In order to achieve this, a survey with 133 men and women from different countries and ethnic groups was completed and in-depth interviews were conducted with 50 of them. For the purpose of contextualizing the problems faced by African migrants and asylum seekers in Istanbul, interviews were also completed with Turkish law enforcement authorities, UNHCR and IOM officials, and relevant NGO representatives.

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