Discrimination against Teenagers in the Mall Environment: A Case from Ankara, Turkey

By Mugan, Guliz; Erkip, Feyzan | Adolescence, Spring 2009 | Go to article overview

Discrimination against Teenagers in the Mall Environment: A Case from Ankara, Turkey


Mugan, Guliz, Erkip, Feyzan, Adolescence


INTRODUCTION

Exclusion and intolerance of differences are not new to city life. The groups with disproportionate power and autonomy tend to monopolize facilities while other groups face exclusion and marginalization. Understanding this power relationship necessitates analysis of city landscapes which take form through that relationship (Matthews & Limb, 1999). Recent additions to urban public spaces such as video surveillance cameras are examples of this duality (Koskela, 2000).

By the way (1995) points out that "ageism" as a type of social discrimination has been neglected in the literature and this neglect necessitates a redefinition. "Ageism is prejudice on grounds of age, just as racism and sexism is prejudice on grounds of race and sex" (By the way, 1995, p. 9). In this context, many young people face different kinds of discrimination patterns that result from adult- and parent-imposed restrictions on their time, their choice of friends and their leisure activities. Matthews and Limb (1999) note that the "geography' of children and young people is moving away from its environmental and psychological roots toward a social and cultural geography which involves processes of exclusion, socio-spatial marginalization, and boundary conflicts between them and adults.

Amit-Talai and Wulff (1995) claim that the general adult view of youth is that they are occasionally amusing, yet potentially dangerous and disturbing. The resulting anxieties of adults about the danger potential of young people lead to an assumption that young people can be allowed in certain public spaces only when they have been socialized through the appropriate "adults" ways (Valentine, 1996). Young people who are marginalized become victims of exclusion by the hegemonic values of the adult world (Matthews & Limb, 1999). These assumptions concerning teenagers as a threat to the adult world and so-called adult spaces result in restrictions on their activities and use of many areas (Valentine, 1996); those restrictions are undeniable evidence of discrimination based on age.

Young people are often perceived as a threat to the dominant forces of the adult world; as one of the weaker groups, they experience both the social constraints of adult values and the landscapes on which those values are imprinted (Matthews & Limb, 1999). Vanderbeck and Johnson (2000) noted that "... few geographers actively engaged ... young people in their research on the meanings of these [consumption] spaces and the roles they play in their lives" (p. 8). Massey (1998) also pointed out that "a range of authorities" in wider society invent and implement rules for the spatial ordering of the population in terms of age" (p. 127) and teenagers are among the groups that are affected by this ordering. Additionally, Breitbart (1998) argued that urban teenagers are increasingly seen as undesirable occupants of public space, whose access to these spaces is limited. She added that "negative images of youth and increased privatization of public space both result in public policies that seek to remove young people from public places, delimit their geography and enforce their invisibility" (p. 307). It is also important to note that exclusion of certain individuals including teenagers from social spaces can pass unnoticed (Sibley, 1995). However, analyzing social discrimination against teenagers involves the danger of dealing with them as if they were homogeneous, without recognizing their unique personalities, diverse social grouping, and their perception of their social world (Jackson & Rodriguez-Tome, 1993; Amit-Talai, 1995; Matthews & Limb, 1999).

Although limited in number, there is some research on Turkish youth which indicates that there are generational shifts in the attitudes and worldviews of this group that parallel the structural changes of society (Kagitcibasi, 2005, 1990; Neyzi, 2001). Kagitcibasi's (2005) longitudinal research on the value of children and family shows that "minding one's parents' which was the most important quality of a child in 1975, turned out to be one of the least important qualities in 2003. …

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