Indentity Crises and Political Instability in Turkey

By Ergil, Dogu | Journal of International Affairs, Fall 2000 | Go to article overview

Indentity Crises and Political Instability in Turkey


Ergil, Dogu, Journal of International Affairs


"Political changes need to be publicly negotiated, not imposed on society. Only a national consensus based on a new social contract--not force---can take the country beyond its self-generated conflicts, isolation and authoritarianism."

The first military coup of the Republican regime that took place May 1960 marked a series of military interventions that exposed the failure of Turkey's hegemonic political system to satisfy the majority of its citizens. Many Turks felt alienated from the Western-oriented, secular regime that, ironically, ignored Western values of legality and freedom and was unable to deliver the material wealth promised by modernization and economic development. The benefits of democracy, rule of law and secularism became less convincing as the quality and integrity of the regime that had defined and enshrined these national principles declined. Moreover, with historical identities diluted and modern ones not yet crystallized, identity, crises in both traditional and modern sectors were inevitable.

In addition, the political elite has been unable to meet the needs and expectations of the nation whose hopes they have raised. Equality, respect or dignity, freedom, welfare, opportunities to improve social standing through education and an available job market remain on the whole unkept promises. People continue to face oppression, rampant inequality, unveiled corruption, prevailing poverty and ignorance.

The crisis of identity, experienced by Turkey's citizens parallels the crisis of Turkey's hegemonic state. Understanding the roots of Turkey's identity, crisis helps explain the problems confronted by the hegemonic state, and the ensuing political instability. This articles thus first introduces the concept of identity, theory, and then uses this theory to examine Turkey's current and historical political events. The final section of the article builds upon this knowledge and analyzes contemporary problems caused by this identity, conflict.

GENERAL identity, AND POLITICAL THEORY

The Hegemonic Model

No culture or identity, is resistant to change. Identities are primarily formed when groups of individuals in a society develop a dialectical relationship between "us" and "them." This dialectical relationship is an objective historical one and embodies a changing social construct. Multiple identities emerge out of contact between individuals and groups and, as these contacts proliferate and accumulate, cultures and identities change and new historical epochs are marked.

Individuals have several levels of identity,. For example, a resident of Istanbul might be a descendant of the Byzantine Empire, an ethnic Greek or Armenian whose family lived through centuries of Ottoman rule and is now a citizen of the Republic of Turkey. He or she may be Christian or Muslim or Western-oriented, with aspirations to be a member of the European Union rather than a member of a Middle Eastern polity.

While multiple identities are a normal historical and social phenomenon, authoritarian politics oppose a pluralist understanding of social reality In hegemonic polities, where the state apparatus controls all spheres of life, the "normal" interaction of social groups, ideas, opinions and cultures is forbidden.(1) This political engineering obliterates or obfuscates socio-cultural differences and has been used by many states in the early phases of nation-building. However, when such political manipulation continues in the later stages of governance, it has a dramatic impact on society. It creates a fixed, national identity, which the state attempts to protect from outside influences.

This theory of governance stems from the Jacobin tradition of the French Revolution and is also inherent in a corporatist system, where the state indirectly or directly maintains control over the social sphere and tries to shape society in concentric circles around the state.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Indentity Crises and Political Instability in Turkey
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.