Accepted paper:

Competing notions of 'good citizenship' in the Turkish political arena


Sabine Mannitz (Peace Research Institute Frankfurt - Member of Leibniz Association )

Paper short abstract:

Recent years' clashes between Turkey's ruling Islamic party and the civic opposition over public policy reveal competing notions of citizenship. They draw on different (moral vs. democratic) values and mark a rift that has grown since the AKP took office and triggered a political modernization.

Paper long abstract:

While the Turkish democratization seemed to gather pace during the first years of the AKP government that has been in office since 2002, the street fighting confrontations in the "Gezi Park protests" in Istanbul and other Turkish cities in 2013/14 revealed a rift between the leadership of the ruling party and considerable parts of Turkish society. Different ideas of citizenship surfaced in these clashes. The political polarization went along with different extents to which the conceptions of good citizenship that protesters and government officials pitched against each other were morally loaded. An analysis of the competing normative discourses and of citizenship practices shows that the ruling AKP - by combining religious politics with a liberal, democratic movement - triggered a liberalization of civic culture in Turkey, as an unintended consequence of the effort to "raise a conservative and democratic generation embracing the nation's values and principles" (then Prime Minister Erdogan, 2012). Exactly the question what makes up the latter is at issue in the ongoing confrontations, and due to the modernization that Turkish politics underwent in the AKP era. With an eye to dismantling the traditional (secularist) principles of Kemalism which had informed Turkish citizenship since 1923, the AKP succeeded in opening up the country's public space for particularistic positions. Yet the resulting increase in the visibility and normalcy of Turkey's societal heterogeneity is being made a core value by those who use the symbolic power of citizenship (Bourdieu) against the AKP's moral authoritarianism.

panel Cit01
The moral economy of citizenship in late liberalism