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A QUALITATIVE CASE STUDY OF THE IMPACT OF SOCIO-CULTURALFACTORS ON PROMINENT TURKISH WRITERSA DissertationbyADALET BARIŞ GÜNERSELSubmitted to the Office of Graduate Studies ofTexas A&M Universityin partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree ofDOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHYAugust 2008Major Subject: Educational Psychology

A QUALITATIVE CASE STUDY OF THE IMPACT OF SOCIO-CULTURALFACTORS ON PROMINENT TURKISH WRITERSA DissertationbyADALET BARIŞ GÜNERSELSubmitted to the Office of Graduate Studies ofTexas A&M Universityin partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree ofDOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHYApproved by:Chair of Committee,Committee Members,Head of Department,Stephanie KnightRodney HillJoyce JuntuneWilliam NashMichael BenzAugust 2008Major Subject: Educational Psychology

iiiABSTRACTA Qualitative Case Study of the Impact of Socio-Cultural Factors on Prominent TurkishWriters. (August 2008)Adalet Barış Günersel, B.A., Oberlin CollegeChair of Advisory Committee: Dr. Stephanie KnightThis study investigates socio-cultural factors that impact the lives of highlycreative writers, specifically, novelists in a specific socio-cultural context, Turkey.Research objectives included the investigation of the definition of creativity, creativeprocesses and products by highly creative Turkish writers, and socio-cultural factors thatinfluenced the development of their creativity.The qualitative case study was used and interviews with four participants, orcases, shed light onto the focus of the study. Four novelists who fit certain criteria wereselected: (a) they have invented, designed, and produced creative work regularly andtheir work has influenced Turkish literature; (b) they were Turkish citizens who havelived 75% of their lives in Turkey and received their education in Turkey; and (c) theyvaried in age and gender. The participants were Yaşar Kemal (85, male), AdaletAğaoğlu (81, female), Mario Levi (51, male), and Latife Tekin (51, female). Interviewswith the participants were transcribed, translated from Turkish into English, andanalyzed. The constant comparative method (Glaser & Strauss, 1967; Lincoln & Guba,

iv1985) was used as the method of analysis. Other documents about the participants werealso used as data sources.Results indicate that participants’ views of creativity resemble both Western andnon-Western views of creativity and their views of creative processes and products aresimilar to former research findings on creative individuals and creativity in general.Overarching themes include (a) environmental catalysts that prompted creativity; (b)emotional and professional support networks in participants’ lives; and (c) participants’self-efficacy. Although environmental catalysts include events that cause both positiveand negative emotions, two of the participants emphasize the role of negative feelings,such as anger and sadness, in the stimulation of creativity. The participants have hadvarious sources of support from either certain individuals, such as a teacher or a friend,or groups of individuals, such as their readers. Participants’ self-efficacy emerges fromvarious personality traits such as determination, persistence, rebelliousness,outspokenness, and independence. Findings indicate that education is an importantsocio-cultural factor that can enhance or hinder creativity and that teachers have a crucialrole in the development of their students.

vDEDICATIONThis work is dedicated to my wonderful mother, Füsun Günersel, and father,Tarık Günersel, who have helped me become the person I am today.

viACKNOWLEDGEMENTSI would like to acknowledge and thank the members of my committee and themembers of Center for Teaching Excellence for their support. Dr. Stephanie Knight’sadvice and guidance, Dr. Joyce Juntune’s enthusiasm, positive energy, and suggestions,and Dr. Prudence Merton’s help during the peer review process have been vitalthroughout the course of this research. I would also like to thank Dr. Nancy Simpson forher continuous support and for letting me become a part of the Center for TeachingExcellence. Thanks to my friends at Texas A&M University for being there for me andspecial thanks to my boyfriend, Philipp Karl Illeditsch, and my parents who have helpedme through these years.

viiTABLE OF CONTENTSPageABSTRACT . iiiDEDICATION . vACKNOWLEDGEMENTS . viTABLE OF CONTENTS . viiLIST OF TABLES . ixCHAPTERIINTRODUCTION .1The Research Gap . 2Purpose of the Study . 5The Research Questions . 5Definition of Terms . 6Research Design . 7Significance of the Study . 9Summary . 10IIREVIEW OF THE LITERATURE . 12Definitions of Creativity and Giftedness . 13History of Creativity Research . 14Approaches to Creativity Research . 16Common Research Methods in Creativity Research. 34Western and Non-Western Cultures and Views ofCreativity. . 35The Turkish Context. 44Summary . 76IIIMETHODOLOGY 78Research Design . 78Participants (Cases) . 79Data Sources . 85Procedures . 87

viiiCHAPTERPageData Analysis . 88Data Presentation. 92Validation . 92Research Orientation . 95Summary . 96IVRESULTS: WITHIN-CASE ANALYSIS 98Section 1: Yaşar Kemal . 99Section 2: Adalet Ağaoğlu . 134Section 3: Mario Levi . 179Section 4: Latife Tekin . 203VCROSS-CASE ANALYSIS AND COMPARISON TO FORMERRESEARCH . 245Research Question One . 246Research Question Two . 250Research Question Three . 258Summary . 283VICONCLUSIONS . .286Overarching Themes . 286Summary and Conclusions . 290Suggestions for Future Research . 295REFERENCES . 296APPENDIX A . 327APPENDIX B . 328APPENDIX C . 332APPENDIX D . 333APPENDIX E . 338VITA . 340

ixLIST OF TABLESTABLEPage1The Kemalist Reforms . 552Participants/Cases. 843Interview Guide . 874Follow-Up Interview Information . 875Peer Review Meetings . 946Kemal’s Creative Products . 1017Findings on Kemal . 1098Ağaoğlu’s Creative Products . 1359Ağaoğlu’s Awards . 13710Findings on Ağaoğlu . 14311Levi’s Creative Products . 18012Findings on Levi. 18413Tekin’s Creative Products . 20414Findings on Tekin. 21215Findings for First Research Question and Comparison with FormerResearch . 24716Findings for Second Research Question . 25117Findings Under the Category “Personality” . 276

1CHAPTER IINTRODUCTIONIn the second half of the 20th century, creativity started being acknowledged as animportant factor for both lives of individuals and societal wellbeing (Sternberg & Lubart,1996). While creativity is important on a daily basis for solving problems that rangefrom simple to complex, it is also important for social developments, industries,businesses, and sciences (Sternberg & Lubart, 1996). Creativity research, which hasbecome popular since the 1950s, has mostly focused on highly creative individuals(Amabile, 1996; Simonton, 1992). A reason for the interest in the personality of theseindividuals could be the fact that if stable characteristics can be identified, people withcreative potential can be identified and creative characteristics can be honed througheducation (Weisberg, 1986). In addition to this, the experiences of highly creativeindividuals and the factors that influenced their lives and creative development providevaluable information not only about how creativity can be developed within individuals,but also about different societies and cultures.Since the 1980s, there has been a rising interest in the socio-cultural approach tocreativity which focuses on social, cultural, and political factors that influence creativity.However, most of the studies related to creativity have been conducted in Westernsocieties leaving the literature lacking an international aspect (Lubart, 1990; Nisbett,2003; Westwood & Low, 2003). In fact, in The International Handbook of CreativityThis dissertation follows the style of Creativity Research Journal.

2published in 2006, Sternberg pointed out that “what is perhaps most notable aboutcreativity research around the world is how little of it there is” (p. 2). Understandingother cultures is especially important with the rapid increase of globalization, which canbe viewed as the result of the acceleration of the activity and mobility of ideas, products,or people (Coatsworth, 2004). Increasingly, countries are enriched by a wealth ofcitizens from all around the world, schools are filled with different languages andcultural backgrounds, and businesses are conducted between continents. Technologicaladvances have led to not only a growing irrelevance of national borders, but also theincreasing interdependence of countries all around the world (Global Policy Forum,n.d.), which points to the need for an understanding of different cultures and societies.Information about the creative wealth in other societies may give us insight intosimilarities and differences between societies, as well as a greater knowledge of othersthat share the same planet. Information about how creativity in different societiesflourishes may let us view creativity in other dimensions.This study is an exploration of a culture that has not been fully studied in therealm of creativity research. It presents a wealth of experience from highly creativeindividuals who have created despite various difficulties. This chapter presents theresearch gap, the purpose of the study, the research questions, and definition of terms. Asummary of the research design and significance of the study conclude the chapter.The Research GapBefore the 1980s, creativity research focused almost exclusively on the creativeindividual, which led to two major approaches to creativity research: the personality

3approach, which focused on the creative individual and styles of creativity, and thecognitive approach, which focused on the creative process (Cropley, 2006;Csikszentmihalyi, 1990; Ryhammar & Brolin, 1999). However during the 1980s,discussions on creativity started to include historical, social, and cultural factors, whichled to a socio-cultural approach to creativity (Rudowicz, 2004; Ryhammar & Brolin,1999). Creativity was no longer viewed as confined within the boundaries of theindividual (Cropley, 2006). Researchers have found that various socio-cultural factorsimpact the development of creativity, as well as the shaping and acceptance of creativeproducts (e.g., Albert & Runco, 1999; Gardner, 1993; Gruber, 1981; Harrington, 1990;Lubart & Georgsdottir, 2004; Mumford & Gustafson, 1988; Simonton, 1975, 1992;Sternberg & Lubart, 1991; Vass, 2004).Since the socio-cultural approach to creativity emerged only recently, moreresearch dealing with socio-cultural factors and creativity is needed. In 1996, the impactof socio-cultural factors on creativity was the least developed area in creativity research“by any measure—volume of research publications, number of investigators engaged inresearch, historical span” (Amabile, 1996, p. 264). More recent literature suggests thatmost of the studies on the socio-cultural aspect of creativity have been conducted inWestern cultures and have focused on Western creative individuals (Nisbett, 2003;Westwood & Low, 2003). There is a limited amount of empirical research on highlycreative individuals who are diverse linguistically, ethnically, or culturally (Levy &Plucker, 2003). Westwood and Low (2003) suggest that discussions about creativity inthe U.S. and other Western countries frequently neglect important creative individuals

4and achievements in non-Western cultures. For this reason, the literature may beculturally biased since the theories of creativity are based on a certain culturalperspective (Lubart, 1990). Oral, Kaufman, and Sexton (2004) indicate that studies onhighly creative writers “usually focus on Western writers, perhaps without an awarenessthat generalizations to writers in other cultures may not be appropriate” and that “thecreative life of non-Western cultures is rarely examined in and of itself” (p. 224). Studieshave found that non-Western cultures and Western cultures differ not only in aspectssuch as the perception of self, perception of time, and perception of society (e.g.,Holmberg, Markus, Herzog, & Franks, 1997; Morris & Peng, 1994; Nisbett, 2003; Ross,1998; Weiner, 2000; Westwood & Low, 2003), but also in views of creativity (Lubart &Georgsdottir, 2004; Moran & John-Steiner, 2004; Ngara & Porath, 2004; Rudowicz,2004; Weiner, 2000).One of the non-Western countries where aspects of creativity research have yetto be fully explored is Turkey, a country unique with its rich history and culturalcomposition positioned between the West and the non-West both geographically andsocially. Turkey’s recent history presents “a rare chance to study how the creative life ofa country is shaped by its sociopolitical life” (Oral, Kaufman, & Sexton, 2004, p. 224).After World War I, the Turkish people, led by Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk) (1881-1938),fought the invading Allies, the Ottoman aristocracy, and the palace, and founded theTurkish Republic in 1923. Reforms transformed the country into a secular democracyfocusing on national pride, while marking the end of almost every aspect of Ottoman lifeand signifying the beginning of Turkey as a modern, Westernized nation separate from

5the empire (Mardin, 2002). Reforms that radically changed society included the adoptionof European-style clothing and the adoption of the Latin alphabet instead of the Arabic,which aimed at making education and literacy easier and accessible to everyone(Meydan-Larousse, 1972). It has been suggested that modern Turkish culture has itsroots in the Ottoman Empire in the same way that European cultures are rooted inmedieval Roman Christendom (Paolucci, 1973). Social unrest, political instability,cultural dualities, and tension have existed in Turkish society since the founding of theRepublic, and these factors have impacted everyone in the country, especially writers.Purpose of the StudyA study done by Oral, Kaufman, and Sexton (2004) investigated the relationshipbetween socio-cultural factors in the lives of highly creative Turkish writers and thesuccess of these writers. While this quantitative study reveals important statisticalinformation, it does not provide any qualitative data such as the writers’ experiences andopinions regarding these socio-cultural factors or information on how these factorsactually influenced them. The purpose of this case study, which is a necessary qualitativeextension of Oral et al.’s (2004) quantitative study, was to investigate socio-culturalfactors that impact the lives of highly creative writers, specifically novelists, in a specificsocio-cultural context, Turkey. Research objectives included the investigation of thedefinition of creativity, creative processes and products by highly creative Turkishwriters and socio-cultural factors that influenced the development of their creativity.The Research QuestionsThe following research questions are addressed in the study:

61. How do highly creative Turkish writers define creativity?2. How do highly creative Turkish writers describe creative processes andproducts?3. How do different factors related to Turkish culture and society (education, socialfactors, political factors, historical events, gender, age) impact (help or hinder)the development of the creativity of highly creative Turkish writers?Definition of TermsIn this study, “highly creative person” refers to someone who can (a) invent,design, and produce creative work regularly, and (b) create work that has an impact on adomain. This definition is a composite of Weisberg’s (1993) definition of “genius”(someone whose work either is greatly influential, or has exceptional value, or both) andGardner’s (1993) definition of “creativity” (the ability to solve problems and producecreative work regularly and in a way that is first novel, but then accepted in a culturalsetting). The highly creative persons in this study are those who have demonstrated theircreativity by examples of productivity as a writer (i.e., novels, stories etc.). They havebeen acclaimed in their domain, the world of literature, by references and/or awards. Theterm “society” refers to “a group of human beings and the structure of their relations”(Parekh, 2000, p. 146). The term “culture” refers to the “totality of customs and beliefsof a people” (Weiner, 2000, p. 99) and “the content and the organizing and legitimizingprinciples of the relations” within society (Parekh, 2000, p. 146). “Highly creativeindividual” and “creative genius” are used interchangeably.

7Research DesignIn order to gain an in-depth understanding of the participants’ experiences,thoughts, and feelings, and the socio-cultural factors that impacted their creativity, bothnegatively and positively, the qualitative case study method was used. The goals ofqualitative research include understanding, generating descriptions, discoveringmeaning, and generating hypotheses, using an inductive mode of analysis (Merriam,1998). Case study research is a qualitative approach that uses one or more boundedsystems (cases) and involves in-depth data collection (Stake, 1995). This study is acollective (or multiple) case study in which there is one focus and multiple cases areused to illustrate the issue (Stake, 1995). The study’s focus is the impact of sociocultural factors in Turkey on the development of literary creativity and the cases are theparticipants.Participants (Cases)This study employed a purposeful sampling strategy. The participants werewriters who fit the definition of “highly creative person.” They have invented, designed,and produced creative work regularly and their work has influenced Turkish literature asindicated by (a) the frequency with which they are referenced, in the Turkish press(newspapers and magazines), (b) the way they are mentioned in the Turkish press(acclaimed as highly creative writers), (c) award or awards they have received, and (d)their active stance as a creative writer, such as speaking at conferences or conductingwriting workshops. In addition to this, since the study focused on socio-cultural factorsin Turkey, participants were Turkish citizens, had lived at least 75% of their lives in

8Turkey, and received all of their education in Turkey. In order to investigate the impactof sex, gender roles, different generations, and age, participants consisted of a 51-yearold male (Mario Levi), a 51-year-old female (Latife Tekin), an 85-year-old male (YaşarKemal), and an 81-year-old female (Adalet Ağaoğlu). Methodology, the selectionprocess, and the participants are further described in Chapter III.Data SourcesTwo sources that are often used in case study research were included: interviewsand documents (Creswell, 2007; Merriam, 1998). Semi-structured interviews with theTurkish version of an interview guide were conducted. The interviews were transcribed,translated from Turkish into English, and then analyzed. Documents, which were eitherin English or Turkish, included articles published in newspapers and journals; reviews ofthe participants’ work published in newspapers, journals, or books, and included inonline resources; written, audiotaped, or videotaped interviews with the participants; andbiographies of the participants if available.Data AnalysisAnalysis in case studies consists of “making a detailed description of the caseand its setting” (Creswell, 2007, p. 163). In this study, the setting includes Turkishculture and history, the locations where the participants have lived, and the actualinterview setting. Thus basic historical information about the Ottoman Empire and theTurkish Republic, founded in 1923, with specific focus on education and literature’s rolein society is provided. In each section pertaining to the writers under Chapter IV,information on their status during events in history that had an impact on the

9participant’s life is presented. Biographical information contains information on thelocations where they have lived. The setting of the interview is also described.The analysis consisted of the two steps that are typically used in multiple casestudy analysis: within-case analyses followed by a cross-case analysis (Creswell, 2007).The within-case analyses focused on each case, participant, and the interview, while thecross-case analysis included the correspondence between categories that emerged fromthe interviews of the participants (Creswell, 2007). Overarching themes were developedand presented with the conclusions. The data pertaining to each participant wereanalyzed using the constant comparative method that was first described by Glaser andStrauss (1967) and later modified by Lincoln and Guba (1985).Significance of the StudyThe significance of this study lies in its contributions to the internationalfoundation of creativity research, specifically focusing on socio-cultural factors. Thefindings present information about creativity in Turkey, a country that has an importantrole in international relations as the bridge between the Western world and the MiddleEastern and Asian worlds. Since a qualitative study on this topic has not yet beenconducted, this study presents a unique look at Turkish history and society with all of itssocio-political upheavals in relation to their impact on creativity. The results of thisstudy provide a new understanding of the lives of creative Turkish writers, how theylived through and developed their creativity through various political and socialupheavals, how they were influenced by different factors, and how they view variousaspects of creativity. Results highlight the similarities and differences between findings

10on creativity in Western societies and this society, where the cultural composition iscaught between Europe and the Middle East.Additionally, the study provides additional insights on the relationship betweencreativity and education, an area of importance in creativity research. Education is asocial, political, and cultural factor and is crucial in the development of individuals bothemotionally and intellectually. Although not the main focus of the study, the explorationof Turkish society includes information on Turkish education and the exploration of thelives of these individuals includes education’s role in the development of their creativity.Results can give insight on aspects that are important to education in such a culturalsetting, including aspects that may need to be enhanced or modified, whether it is ineducation universally or education specifically in Turkey.SummaryThis chapter presented information about this qualitative case study. The purposeof this study was to investigate socio-cultural factors that influenced highly creativeTurkish writers, as well as these writers’ definition of creativity, creative processes, andproducts. Since most of the studies on creativity have been conducted in Westernsocieties, creativity research in other societies, such as Turkey, needs to be developed.The cases of the study are the four participants and the data sources are the interviewswith the participants and documents related to the participants. The constant comparativemethod (Glaser & Strauss, 1967; Lincoln & Guba, 1985) was used to analyze the dataand overarching themes were developed.

11The following chapter presents information on different approaches to creativityresearch, research findings, and common research methods, as well as differencesbetween Western and non-Western societies and their views of creativity. Chapter II alsoprovides social and historical information on the context of the study, Turkey. ChapterIII consists of a detailed description of the methodology of the study, including theoverall design, participants, data sources, procedures, data analysis, data presentation,validation, and the researcher orientation. This is followed by the presentation of theindividual case studies in Chapter IV, where each participant is described and theanalysis of the interview is presented. Chapter V consists of the cross-case analysis,where categories that emerged from the interviews are compared with each other andfindings are compared with former research. The dissertation concludes with apresentation of overarching themes and concluding remarks in Chapter VI.

12CHAPTER IIREVIEW OF THE LITERATUREThis chapter presents information on three broad topics: (a) creativity research ingeneral, including the three major approaches to creativity, research findings, andcommon research methods; (b) creativity research in non-Western societies, including abrief comparison of Western and non-Western cultures and their views of creativity; and(c) the context of the current study, Turkey, including information on different factorsthat have impacted creativity throughout Turkish history.Information on creativity research includes the three major approaches to moderncreativity research: the personality approach focusing on the creative individual andstyles of creativity, the cognitive approach focusing on the creative process, and thesocio-cultural approach focusing on socio-cultural factors, such as education, family, andthe government, (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990; Ryhammar & Brolin, 1999). Since the currentstudy focuses on socio-cultural issues, the socio-cultural approach is explained

Since the socio-cultural approach to creativity emerged only recently, more research dealing with socio-cultural factors and creativity is needed. In 1996, the impact of socio-cultural factors on creativity was the least developed area in creativity research "by any measure—volume of research publications, number of investigators engaged in

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