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Contemporary Issues with Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Social Science

Edited By Engin ÇAKIR and Yusuf KADERLİ

Social sciences are made up of science disciplines that research humanity, society, and the world with a human dimension, and therefore its domain of influence is also serious and wide. Naturally, the social scientist has the power to influence society with his/her research and writing. This book aims to add the contributions of academicians from different disciplines to the social sciences fields they specialize in the academic literature and to give an idea about new researches. The book contains scientific articles on business, economics, public finance, tourism, and international relations.

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The Effect of Covid-19 Pandemic on Solidarity Culture in Turkey: Asli Kose

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Asli Kose

The Effect of Covid-19 Pandemic on Solidarity Culture in Turkey

Abstract COVID-19 outbreak has become important problem of the World in 2020. World Health Organization accepted COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic on March 11, 2020. With the pandemic workplaces closed and production decreased. COVID-19 pandemic is affecting Turkey socially and economically as it is affecting many countries in global health. In Turkey, it is determined the first corona virus cases in March 2020. It may have some negative economicial, educational, agricultural and public health effects. This study includes a content that evaluates the adversities of the COVID-19 pandemic affecting social assistance. Social assistances are usually planned by central governments and implemented by local governments. Municipalities, one of the local governments, are one of the important institutions in delivering social assistances to the puclic. Central goverment and local goverments tried to support the public with social benefits by using different resources in COVID-19 pandemic. In this process, the culture of solidarity came to the fore. Turkey is experiencing the most beautiful examples of solidarity culture of the country in location. The world has also contributed positively to its image in addition to creating social benefits with the helth aids provided. The need for social assitances is excepted to increase in the face the consequences of the crisis in the future period. This situation will increase the need of public institutions for governance.

Keywords: Social Policy, COVID-19, Solidarity, Social Aid

1Introduction

COVID-19 outbreak has become important problem of the World in 2020. World Health Organization accepted COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic on March 11, 2020. With the pandemic workplaces closed and production decreased. COVID-19 pandemic is affecting Turkey socially and economically as it is affecting many countries in global health. Today, countries around the world continue to struggle with the covid-19 pandemic in economic, social and health fields. The results of this national and international struggle will shape the future. The covid-19 epidemic is not only a medical problem, which, instead, can be defined as a public health crisis. In Turkey, it is determined the first corona virus cases in March 2020. It may have some negative economicial, educational, agricultural and public health effects. Social assistance is of ←333 | 334→significant role in decreasing the social impacts.Social assistance is the focus of social state discussions (Yılmaz, 2015). The place and function of social assistance are shaped depending on the assistance regimes of countries (Gokbayrak, 2017). Social security is both a human right and a policy which is under the responsibility of a state. Social assistance has an important place within social security systems (Bulut, 2011). Social assistance programs are accepted as one of the measures that covers deficits of social security systems (Zengin, Sahin & Ozcan, 2012). Social policies are generally planned by centralized governments and applied by local administrations. States have the most effective position in solving problems among social policy practice fields. Local administrations also have an important position in applying social policies being the closest institutions to public. Although social assistance programs are national in the first place, practice and local interpretation of programs are executed depending on arrangements of local administrations (Toprak & Sataf, 2009). Social assistance is one of the application instruments of social policies. In Turkey, many institutions generate social assistance in order to attain specific aims (Tekindal, 2018). Social assistance and solidarity are important parts of human and society reality. Practices based on needs mostly depend on charity and benevolence. Solidarity in primitive communities, church, benevolence in middle ages and social donation system in Anatolian and Islam communities and mainly in Ottoman have improved during historical process (Dalyan & Bayır, 2019). Today, social assistance that citizens make use of varies according to welfare level of countries. These assistances may vary not only according to welfare but also depending on the scope of effects of economic crises, war, mass migrations, epidemic. Following the first case detected on March 11 in Turkey, measures were taken in phases in order to prevent spread of virus. Due to COVID-19, important structural changes have been experienced in economic and social fields namely monetary and financial market, trade, education and service industry (TUBA COVID-19 Report, 2020). Arrangements made for working and economic process are focused on sustainability of life. Key factors for maintaining the sustainability of life are characterized as accessibility to social assistance.

2 Social Assistance Provided by the Central Administration

The structure that is responsible for providing central social assistance is the Ministry of Family and Social Policy. Below are the sorts of social assistance that the ministry provided during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Within the scope of COVID-19 pandemic Phase 1,2 million 111 thousand houses were assisted with 1.000 TL cash money. Apart from this, periodical share that is sent to social assistance and solidarity foundations was increased from 135 million TL to 180 million TL, and the periodical share was arranged as double considering Ramadan month. Within the scope of Phase 2, social assistance and solidarity foundations were consulted for evaluation of people in need Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services, 2020.

One of the institutions that provide support for the welfare service is the social welfare foundations. Social Welfare Foundations are one of the institutions that have been reorganized since 2011 for developing social policies of the Ministry of Family and Social Policy (Turkoglu, 2013). These institutions have been filling an important gap in social welfare in Turkey since 1986 (Daslı, 2018). These institutions have an important role in the COVID-19 pandemic as well.

2,3 million houses which were detected with the help of social assistance and solidarity foundations and could not make use of the Phase 1 were assisted with 1,000 TL without any application within the scope of Phase 2. 6 million application were analyzed in Phase 3 and 2,5 million families were assisted with 1.000 TL pandemic social help. Ramadan bonuses of the retirees were paid before Ramadan month (Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services, 2020). We have each other national solidarity campaign was initiated by the President. Society, public and private sector representatives have contributed to this campaign. (www.bizbizeyeteriz.gov.tr, 2020). Supports of local administrations and fidelity social support groups and also security forces were acquired to meet the needs of elders and handicapped citizens and people living alone due to curfew taken for COVID-19 pandemic (TUBA COVID-19 Report, 2020). Public claims that the private sector would benefit from tax breaks through donations have caused controversy. Confidentiality is the most important characteristics of donations and grants, which have religious, moral, and social aspects with philanthropy at the core. However, it seems contradictory that donations, which should be based on the motive of philanthropy, are subjected to deductions in tax assessments (Ertekin, 2018).

The service sector has been negatively affected at a high level from the measurements preventing mobility of people due to the COVID-19 pandemic (Atay, 2020). Given the prevalence of the outbreak and the extent of the crisis, employers may face significant financial and legal burdens as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak if they do not pay attention to the obligations imposed by the outbreak. On the other hand, when certain practices and advantages defined in the legislation are used, it will be possible to partially compensate for the losses in production as a result of the outbreak (Esen, 2020).

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As a part of the struggle against the pandemic, incentives for the private sector, where production and employment were suspended, were implemented through the coordination of the ministries. Certain measures such as short work allowance have been be used by those who have paid 450 days of premium in the last 3 years among those who are subject to a 60-day service contract. This practice means that each insured person receives a short work allowance equivalent to 58 Turkish Liras to 146 Turkish Liras per day (Ministry of Family, Labor and Social Services, 2020). However, certain losses of rights were experienced since the implementation was based on the effective date of the law in the Official Gazette.

In this process, which is successfully managed together with the world acting in concert and creating local solutions, non-governmental organizations should take more active roles (Aslan, 2020). In accordance with the decisions to meet the needs of the elderly, disabled and solitary individuals during the curfew restrictions, certain kinds of support were received from local authorities and organizations such as the vefa (lit.fidelity) social support groups, especially the security forces (TUBA COVID-19 Report, 2020).

3 Social Assistance Activities of Municipalities as the Local Administrations

Municipalities, known as the closest local administrations to citizens, are the most effective institutions in meeting the needs of the people (Kesgin, 2016). The Turkish municipality understanding has experienced changes in the historical process. Changes in municipal laws and social responsibilities assigned to municipalities have made these institutions important actors in the need to implement social practices (Sezik, 2016). With the Municipal Law No. 5393, municipalities are also assigned important tasks and responsibilities concerning social relief. Although there are municipalities in Turkey that work effectively in terms of social policy functions, applications have not yet reached the desired level (Yıldırım, 2014).

Some of the social assistance implementations offered by local administrations during the COVID-19 pandemic period are presented below (KOSGEB, 2020).

A total of 934.128 people applied for social assistance to Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, and 613.743 of them were identified as eligible for social assistance. In terms of benevolent bill payment campaign, a total of 6.630.749 TL was paid for the water (ISKI) and natural gas (IGDAS) bills of 52.598 needy people in the city. Apart from these, certain implementations were applied like providing foodstuff boxes, waiving the rental payments for 3 months for ←336 | 337→3 thousand tenants using the shops and dwellings of the municipality, free accommodation for medical personnel, and milk assistance for children.

Ankara Metropolitan Municipality provided certain kinds of assistance such as providing shopping cards with cash credits, food aid, hygiene boxes, income support for the private drivers of city transportation, supporting tailors, who were forced to shut down their businesses, by hiring them in production of facial masks in the ateliers of the municipality, fuel support for the 2.850 private city transportation drivers, providing dinners during the Ramadan for the people in need through the “This iftar dinner is for you”, paying the debts of individuals in need to the local groceries by the help of philanthropists, paying the water bills of individuals in need and providing financial aid for them through the 6 Million Banding Together for a Happy Feast campaign.

Izmir Metropolitan Municipality provided food aid boxes and cash assistance for 40.000 households without income, provided support for citizens with disabilities and over 65 years of age, assistance to citizens with chronic illnesses, free service to health workers and discounts on water consumption.

Kocaeli Metropolitan Municipality provided certain types of assistance such as meeting the needs of citizens over 65 years of age and with chronic illnesses, providing food, fuel and hygiene boxes, rent support, water bills support and free transportation to health personnel.

Through the “Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign”, Bursa Metropolitan Municipality provided food and basic hygiene boxes within the scope of social solidarity, paid for the water bills of those in need, provided “Card-16” support and assistance for those over 65 years old, psychological support, and provided 2 meals per day for the poor people.

Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality provided food assistance for 21.000 needy families, paid the debts of needy families to the local grocery stores with a budget of 2 million Turkish Liras through a record book named as Zimem, which was also kept as the debt record book in the Ottoman periods. 50,000 soaps and bleach bottles were distributed to citizens in need, food aid boxes were provided for 11.000 households, breakfasts, dry food, and hot food were provided for citizens aged 65 and over, decreased the rental payments of the tenants of the municipality by 50 % and increased the daily wage of its employees by 33 TL.

Adana Metropolitan Municipality provided water bill discount, Seyhan assistance card, psychological support line, and assistance to needy people over 65 years of age.

Konya Metropolitan Municipality decided to make a discount in water bills, providing accommodation for homeless people in hotels, waiving the water ←337 | 338→bills of the unemployed residents for 2 months with an increased social support for citizens in need through the holy month of Ramadan.

Samsun Metropolitan Municipality provided free transportation to health workers with municipal vehicles, accommodation to health workers in hotels, delivery of the needs of citizens over 65 years of age at home, certain needs of 4.618 citizens such as buying drugs or grocery shopping.

Mersin Metropolitan Municipality provided 120.000 food aid, 200.000 health packages, hot meals and free bread to 3500 households per day, and canceled the payments of water bills up to 10 cubic meters for citizens in need.

In the Union of Municipalities of Marmara region, Küçükçekmece municipality provided 5.354 food aid boxes, Maltepe municipality met the grocery, pharmacy, and cleaning needs of 722 families, Balıkesir municipality provided food aid boxes to 20.000 families, Sakarya Metropolitan Municipality distributed basic hygiene boxes, Bursa Mudanya Municipality provided 1500 families with food, vegetables, fruits, and cleaning supplies (Union of Municipalities of Marmara, 2020).

Examining the implementations of social assistance in local governments as part of the struggle against the COVID-19 in Turkey, it seems that the focus is on meeting humanitarian needs. Under the influence of our cultural understanding and with the support of citizens, municipalities with limited resources have contributed to meeting the needs of many needy citizens. Certain conflicts experienced between the central government and local governments in practice did not prevent the continuation of the culture of assistance.

In studies conducted on social assistance in Turkey, it is stated that certain roles of more than one public institution in social assistance (such as ministry, provincial governorship, district governorship) cause coordination problems particularly in the distribution of aid (Gunes, 2012). In this regard, social solidarity and assistance foundations, public institutions operating in this area and municipalities acting together within the framework of governance will reduce management problems and waste of resources in social assistance (Aygen, 2014). Given that the losses that the epidemic will create in the field of production and economy will lead to an increase in unemployment, the need for governance in public institutions will increase particularly in the future. Similarly, in the assessments of TUBA COVID-19 report, it was stated that national approaches rather enclosed than globalized will stand out in management within the pandemic process. According to the new understanding of public administration, governance principles reduce the hierarchical aspects of the public, increasing its rationality (Kalkan & Alparslan, 2009). The most important contribution of the COVID-19 pandemic process to the Turkish public administration culture ←338 | 339→is that it made the need for governance among the public institutions more visible.

When the cases of social assistance practices of local administrations within the scope of COVID-19 in Turkey are examined, it is seen that assistances are mainly focused on human needs. With the effect of our cultural consciousness, municipalities which have restricted sources have contributed to meeting requirements of citizens in need with the help of citizens. Conflicts of central administration and local administrations in practice could not prevent sustaining the culture of helping each other. Decisions taken for gathering financial assistances under one roof continued as meeting requirements of people in need in different ways instead of cash benefit campaigns of local administrations. Thanks to the campaign of Ankara Metropolitan Municipality which can be regarded as one of the best examples of successful practices, debts of people at local markets were compensated. This practice was taken example by Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality. Another successful practice is pending billing campaign of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality which was followed by Ankara, Izmir and Aydın Metropolitan Municipalities. With this campaign, water and natural gas bills of citizens in need were paid by others.

4 Conclusion

The year 2020 will be commemorated with COVID-19 pandemic and losses due to this pandemic. Countries throughout the world are trying to manage this situation with different strategies. Turkey is a country where we experience the most beautiful cases of helping and solidarity culture. Apart from providing social assistance to other countries in the world, Turkey has also brought positive contribution to its general image. By making use of different sources, centralized and local administrations tried to support public with social help. It is expected in the future that people will have more and more social assistance due to the consequences of this crisis. This case will increase the need of public institutions for governance more and more.

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