Social representation of events in world history: Crosscultural consensus or Western discourse? How Turkish students view events in world history

Serap Özer, Gökçe Ergün
Published Online:
24 Jul 2012
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 48 Issue 4

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The perceptions of historical events are considered to be an important cultural, political, and social psychological variable. Earlier studies have shown a crosscultural consensus on historical events that are considered to be important. It has been indicated that a strong Western–Christian European template dominates the view of which events are considered to be important events in history, by many samples across the world. It was the aim of this study to test this finding with a Turkish sample, which would represent some unique characteristics in that it is Muslim, comes from an Empire background, and has undergone a recent nation‐building process. College students (n = 372) responded to a questionnaire that was utilized in seven other countries. It was shown that Turkish students were not Eurocentric as expected by the literature: They were highly sociocentric; they gave importance to events related to Turkish history. They were similar to their European counterparts in that war and violence were given primary importance when selecting events as important in history. However, they did not behave as predicted by earlier literature: They did not see Western European events as having a primary importance in history but gave at least equal importance to events that originated from Ottoman Empire roots. The results were discussed in terms of the unique cultural and historical variables that contribute to the identity and social psychological attributions of Turkish students. Further research should focus on not only which events are considered as important historical events but also the reasons behind these.

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