The Meaning of Modernity: A Qualitative Study of Turkish Immigrants in the U.S.



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



This study analyzes the ways Turkish-Americans reason and discuss modernity. The purpose of this study is to discover broader issues of culture and how it fits into the larger scheme of meanings surrounding life. Contemporary debates depend on what culture is and how it is linked to people’s views and practices. Culture is often assumed to motivate individuals’ action through internalized values and beliefs. However, Ann Swidler suggests an alternative framework, a cultural tool kit, which indicates how culture is utilized and how it is related to action. In the scope of this study, I employed Swidler’s (1986; 2001) cultural tool kit approach to explore what Turkish-Americans think about modernity, what resources they have for thinking about modernity and also how they think about it, in order to retrace how culture operates in the lives of ordinary people. Studying modernity in the context of national identity and experience provides a useful analytic for examining Turkish history. Drawing from qualitative interview data, Turkish negotiations concerning what it means to be modern revealed the complexities and contradictions associated with modernity, as well as how it is expressed, negotiated and challenged in daily life.



Turkish-Americans, Modernism, Cultural tool kit