An Ethnographic Inquiry on Internet Cafés within the Context of Turkish Youth Culture

Mustafa Koc, Karen Ann Ferneding
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Contemporary studies have become interested in determining transformative effects of information and communication technologies on youngstersâ social and cultural identity developments. Internet cafés are techno-social spaces where people access to digital media and interact with global cultural flows. Such interactions are profound because they fundamentally challenge diverse locality and traditional values. In this paper, we reports the findings of ethnographic research study as a part graduate thesis project about Internet cafés in Turkey. Our purpose was to find out how Internet cafés are being used by Turkish youth and how these sites affect their social, cultural, and educational experiences. We conducted intensive observations in three Internet cafés and semi-structured interviews with four college students. The results show that Internet cafés are being used mostly by male youngsters mostly for entertainment and communication purposes. Internet café usage are closely related to the emergence of techno-consumerist youth culture or lifestyle. This suggests that technology is more than a simple and neutral instrument that constitutes complex social and cultural dimensions which may involve profound alterations for people lives.


Internet cafés, Cyberspace, Global media, Youth development, Socialization

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Appendix A: Internet Café Observation Template Date: …. /….. /…. Time: Café Name: Physical Environment Location & surroundings: Estimated area of space: Light and smell: Ambient sound or music: Types of programs on TV or video if exist: Decoration, furniture arrangements, paint, etc.: Cultural icons related to popular/western or traditional: Services Internet access fee: Working hours: Type of advertisement: Food and drink: Print, fax, copy: Other business or activities: Technical Aspects Number of computers: Hardware quality (CPU, ram drives, monitors, etc): Available software: Connection speed: Technical support: User Characteristics Number of total users: Gender distribution: Age range: Occupation (student, worker, etc.): Ownership of technology at present (cell phone, walkman): Usage Patterns Educational & informational (research, writing, studying, reading, etc.): Entertainment (surfing, gaming, listening, watching): Communication (forums, internet telephoning, ICQ, MSN , Chatting): Business (selling, buying, banking, paying bills, etc): Others (sociability, meeting and talking with friends, drinking, etc.): General Comments Appendix B: Interview Guiding Questions Form Question Probe/Keyword Would you please tell me a little about yourself? Age, Economic status, Family information, Residency, Hobbies, habits etc. Friendships, Education, Media use & ownership How do you describe your Internet café experiences? When and why to go, Frequency, Likes/dislikes, Motivation, fashion, Alone or with someone, Café preferences, Parent’s reaction Would you please describe what kinds of activities do you usually engage in the Internet cafés? Online, offline, Kinds of websites, Chat, why, why not, Chat with whom, gender, Identity, persona change, Research, study, Entertainment, game, What kind, w/whom, Online relationships In what ways do you think the Internet and Internet café use reshape or influence your life and Turkish society at large, or not? Advantages, European Union, Economical, Feelings of time-space, Traditional values, Educational, Individuality, Social & cultural, Family, parents, friends, Disadvantages, Changes in life style, Religion, language, Problems or concerns, Human rights Democracy, Global issues, Feeling independent What do you think about the national policy and regulations regarding Internet cafés? Awareness, Why or not, Effectiveness, Benefits, Sexual content, Children’s’ use, Democratic or not, why, Smoking, Gender-specific cafés, Detriments, Violent-based games Do you have any story or event regarding your Internet activities and Internet café experiences that you cannot forget? Is there anything else that you would like to share with me that I did not ask?

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