Faces of Citizenship: A social representational inquiry to understand how citizenship as social imagery is described in Turkey

  • Elif Sandal-Önal Institute for Interdisciplinary Research on Conflict and Violence (IKG), Bielefeld University, Germany.
  • Demet İslambay-Yapalı Independent Researcher
Keywords: citizenship, social representations, thematic analysis, visual analysis, social media


Reflecting on the legal relationship between the individual and the nation-state, citizenship has long been considered a framework consisting of rights and obligations. However, in the last two decades, it has become intertwined  with individuals’ meaning-making processes of their social world as well as with the dynamics of constructing group boundaries and (re)producing the hierarchies between groups. In this paper, we will present how the lay representations of citizenship prevailed on social media through publicly sharing visuals after the issuance of an amendment for a regulation stating the new conditions for granting Turkish citizenship to foreigners. After thematically analyzing the tweets containing visuals with hashtags related to citizenship, which were sent within the six months following the amendment, we extracted two main themes of citizenship in Turkey as "legal boundaries" and "sentimental citizenship". The study enabled us to show how visuals are used to communicate the social and political aspects of citizenship that are represented around objective and subjective meanings while also indicating how the lay meanings of citizenship are utilized to reproduce the inequalities.