Turkey: Political Change and the Transformation of Society

Turkey: Political Change and the Transformation of Society

  • 25 August 2014

For several decades, Turkey has been going through very important societal transformations in terms of their scope and depth. It is not yet clear whether political changes were motivated by these transformations or came as an accumulative result of political acts which affected social structures and intellectual discourse. Political changes can be seen as key indicators of transformations in the views of the elite and the people’s cultural identity. The current debates in Turkey have always been within the framework of social development and are in line with Turkish public opinion. Therefore, these debates come as no surprise; they stem from a number of important assumptions and refer to a series of political decisions related to key issues designed to re-explore cultural and civic identity, which remain open to debate in Turkish society.

The deep cognitive problems in Turkey, and the way the past, present and future are viewed, are a matter of methodology, which is essentially connected with cultural identity, civilizational perception and the accompanying transformation in the country’s elite; this includes attempts at using geography to restore history, reinterpreting time and place, and reconsidering the complete divorce from the cultural and religious heritage imposed by Kamalists for over eight decades. The Kamalists took strict measures to separate the state from Islam, destroyed the cultural structures of society, and built instead new institutions which are aligned with secularism.

The re-emergence of Islam in politics, and the rise to power of the Justice and Development Party, is a result of changes in Turkish society, in a country with a Muslim majority, and an inevitable outcome of increased democracy, which has widened the political choices of social forces. This development might be viewed differently by Arab and Turkish elites, depending on the extent of their emotional attachment or detachment. While the Turkish attribute these transformations to natural domestic developments within a strictly local dimension that has nothing to do with changes in neighbouring Arab countries, the Arabs look at the ideological and regional dimensions rather than the domestic issues. This results in varied, cognitively different, and seemingly contradictory expectations depending on the perspective of each party, which makes a comparative and conciliatory approach even more difficult, especially in the light of historical concerns and the burden of their current interpretations.

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Monday 25 August 2014

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Monday 25 August 2014

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