Social networks of young Syrian families in Turkey: Breadth, nature and functionality relative to the absence or presence of extended family members. (English)
The main objective of this study was to understand the impact of absence of the extended family on the social networks of young families in Turkey. We investigated the social networks of 30 young Syrian families, married couples ages between 24-39 who fled to Turkey during the conflict. Twelve of these families were separated from their extended families, while the other 18 families had at least three members of their extended family nearby. This was a comparative case study with a focus on: ‘breadth’, i.e. the size of their social networks; ‘nature’ i.e. with whom did they engage socially; and ‘functionality’ i.e. the extent to which both groups’ social-support needs were satisfied by their current networks. We also examined social occasions and visits over a 3-month period, and their closest social ties, revealing limited social engagement with Turkish host communities amongst both group partly because their temporary status made them less willing to invest in building new social networks. Those with extended families reported the highest levels of satisfaction in terms of their social needs being met, but some also noted that connection to extended family constrained the building of new relations within host communities. Finally, we identified three common characteristics amongst non-connected families relative to their social networks: ‘social poverty’, high dependence on new mostly kinship or prior community social ties; and low satisfaction relative to fulfilment of their social need. The majority experienced a lack of emotional and childcare support, affecting other aspects of their lives. Neither group however felt that their needs were being fully met so that more needs to be done.