Social Theory and Later Modernities: The Turkish Experience

Social Theory and Later Modernities: The Turkish Experience

Social Theory and Later Modernities: The Turkish Experience

Social Theory and Later Modernities: The Turkish Experience

Synopsis

The debate on varieties of modernity is central to current social theory and research, and this book explores the theme in relation to the culture and society of Turkey. The book focuses on the Kemalist project to create a modern Turkish nation-state, analyzing its historical background, the role of concepts of ethnicity and nation, and the configurations of state, society and economy in the new Turkish republic. The author then moves on to examine the relations between Islam and modernity, arguing that both must be understood as open to multiple interpretations rather than seen as monolithic and as diametrically opposed. He considers the rise of Islamism in Turkey and looks in particular at the paradoxical role of women activists within the Islamist movement. Ultimately, Kaya argues that Islamism must be understood as a modern movement, albeit a paradoxical one, rather than simply as a return to "tradition".

Excerpt

Currently, a debate on varieties of modernity occupies a central place within social theory and research. Within the conceptual context of this debate, this book aims to understand the Turkish experience as a particular model of modernity. In the light of current developments in the tradition of comparativehistorical sociology, this book shows that an alternative to Eurocentric social theories is a perspective that accords a central place to the concept of varieties of modernity. The starting point of the book is the possibility of the emergence of multiple modernities, with their specific interpretations of the ‘imaginary significations of modernity’. In this context, a critique of perspectives that reduce the modernization of non-Western societies to ‘Westernization’ emerges immediately. The assumed equivalence between the West and modernity is problematized through the themes of a plurality of histories, civilizations, modernizing agents and projects of modernity.

The concept of ‘later modernities’ developed in this book suggests a new approach to understanding and interpreting multiple modernities. It inspires renewed attention to the current state of the social world. The term ‘later modernities’ refers in particular to non-Western experiences that came about as distinct models of modernity, different from the Western European experience, in the absence of colonization. In this light, the present study questions two sorts of perspective, one of which argues for globalization and the other for localization. From this point of view, this book suggests that we need a social theory beyond the thesis of the clash of civilizations and that of the end of history. History has not come to an end, nor do the civilizations clash. And a perspective of later modernities, provided in this book on the basis of an analysis of Turkish modernity, constitutes a break with theories of convergence and divergence. Neither modernization theory nor the dependency . . .

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