World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Barcelona, July 19th - 24th 2010


Globalization, Capitalism and Welfare in Turkey (237) - Panel

· Date: WED, 21 / 2.30 - 4.30 pm

· Language: English

· Description:

Paper presenter: Ebru Deniz Ozan (Research Assistant, Ankara University, Turkey), “Capitalist Response to Structural Crisis: The Case of Turkish Free Enterprise Council”
The paper focuses on bourgeois organizations in Turkey in the second half of 1970s, a chaotic period that ended with the coup d’état of 1980 which brought about a change in both the form of the state and the political regime. Turkey suffered an economic crisis in 1977 and significant social unrest as well as intensified political activity throughout the decade. Capitalists responded to these circumstances in various ways and sought to express their concerns and demands. The paper examines one of the responses that the Turkish bourgeoisie gave to the challenging conditions of the 1970s. In the middle of the 1970s, the organizations that represented different sections of bourgeoisie came together and established a platform called the 'Turkish Free Enterprise Council' (TFEC; Turk Hur Tesebbus Konseyi). It was composed of the big industrialists' association, the confederation of employers' unions, the chambers of commerce, industry and agriculture, and the confederation of shopkeepers and artisans. They tried to formulate and emphasize the immediate issues that faced them. They essentially demanded a shift to export-oriented economic policies and the regulation of collective bargaining. Examining the TFEC, I try to analyze the strategies that business groups developed to cope with the chaotic circumstances of the 1970s and the factors that led them to form an alliance in spite of their disagreements. The paper argues that TFEC was an alternative form of organization for the bourgeoisie in the period of profound economic and political crisis. It was an attempt to overcome the existing crisis of representation as the capitalist classes had not been able to transmit their economic and political demands to the political level through existing political parties or weak coalition governments. The paper will demonstrate that TFEC was also an effort to establish hegemony within the capitalist classes themselves. For, the demands of the big industrial and commercial bourgeoisie, such as export credits, value added tax, membership to European Economic Community and tranquillity in industrial relations were presented as the demands of the whole bourgeoisie. Finally, TFEC can be seen as a front against depended classes. Indeed, the main reason for the participation of farmers, artisans and small-middle sized capitalists in this council was to establish a united front against workers.

Paper presenter: Artur Perchel (PhD Researcher, Ghent University, Belgium), “Governing at a
Distance: Housing Development Administration of Turkey (TOKI) and Modalities of Welfare Governance"
Studying how power actually operates and how it is redeployed within institutional structures is a fascinating task. Yet, power is a dynamic phenomenon, so is the creativity of policymakers seeking to reproduce the traditional mechanisms of governing under new forms and using novel sets of devices. In the case of Turkey, one of the most significant, albeit entirely under-researched features of the last three decades has been the shift in the organization and exercise of power under the conditions of neoliberal globalization. It has been particularly visible in the area of public services, ostensibly depoliticized and assembled into a broader net of non- and semi-governmental arrangements. From this perspective, especially the housing sector became massively commodified and inscribed in the post-political context of technocratic and managerially-structured governance. What has long been on the margins of scholarly interest is the fact that the rise of governance in the economy of welfare services demarcates a new moment in the unfolding of the Turkish neoliberal project. In the framework of post-welfare state governance, the recent welfare-to-workfare policy developments in Turkey give a full account on how the capital reproduction has expanded into new registers of extra-economic relations. In this seminal paper I offer a novel way of looking at the institutional reorganization of the Turkish state in the area of social policies. To envisage this subject in a more critical register, I focus on the main actor within the Turkish welfare architecture - the Housing Development Administration (TOKI). TOKI provides a textbook case of an innovative, multiscalar public agency that transcends traditional boundaries of municipal politics and reposits urban populations within the circuit of capital reproduction. The proposition explored in this paper is that through regulatory and institutional rescaling, TOKI has been promoted as the organizing principle of technocratic, apolitical and problem-solving policymaking. Using various technologies of power and a colourful vernacular of governance, TOKI depoliticized the housing market and reframed it as a problem-to-be-solved. Along these lines, the overall objective of this research is to show how an apparently apolitical welfare agency can be productively employed to rethink conventional approaches to the analysis of the Turkish state and its integration with global capitalism. The paper concludes that TOKI indeed forms a model case in a broader narrative of state sociospatial restructuring, where a state agency governs 'at a distance', through technologies and hybrid institutionalities built outside the formal administrative structure.

Paper presenter: Ozlem Madi-Sisman (Ph.D. Candidate, Furman University and Bilkent University, USA), “Moral Economy: The Rise of Neo-Islamist Bourgeois in Turkey”
The rise of the AKP to power in Turkey in 2002 marked a beginning of a new era in Turkey and Islamic world, in terms of enduring debates between Islam and Democracy and that of Islam and Capitalism. One of the significant outcomes of this politico-economic development was emergence of a new neo-Islamist bourgeois in modern Turkey. I aim to contextualize the rise of this bourgeois against the backdrop of conflict and cooperation between Islam and Capitalism. As part of my larger Ph.D. project, in this paper, I discuss self-perceptions and life styles of the neo-islamist bourgeois; and argue that Islam and Capitalism could be compatible since both of them were flexible enough to be reinterpreted to accommodate each other. Methodologically, the arguments are based on my research at Bilkent and Harvard libraries and in-depth interviews with the members of neo-Islamist bourgeois class in Turkey, with a particular attention to the members of two non-governmental Islamic organizations, MUSIAD and IGIAD, which aims to reconcile capitalist business principles and Islamic ethical values.

Paper presenter: Deniz Cakirer (Ph.D. Candidate, University of Southern California, USA), “Tuning into global markets: How economic integration to global capitalism changed religious communities’ discourse creation in Turkey’”
How does integration into global capitalism affect religious communities’ creation and dissemination of discourses? This paper compares the ways in which three religious communities in Turkey, Gulen, Iskenderpasa and Suleymanci communities, integrated into global markets. It analyzes how different ways of integration into global capitalism affect the way in which media is used by religious communities. Relations with media systems shape the way in which brotherhoods create discourses as well as the extent to which religious communities have an effect of the messages on the audience. Media Systems Dependency (MSD) theory in Communications literature argues that interpersonal networks such as religious communities mediate between the structural changes in the media system and individuals’ consumption of media messages. I combine a neo-Gramscian framework with MSD theory in Communications literature to understand the differences between each community’s practices.

Paper presenter: Seda Demiralp (Assistant Professor, Isik University), "Democratic Allies or Financiers of Terrorism?"
Islamist business groups form a crucial constituency for Islamist parties throughout the Muslim world mainly because of the vast financial resources that they can supply to these parties. Thus, they are frequently stigmatized by liberal actors as the financiers of Islamist extremist groups. However, these perspectives miss the fact that Islamist businessmen often act as pragmatic actors who respond very strongly to economic interests. Therefore, they may support liberal policies when it benefits their position in the economic structure. This paper examines the extent of pragmatic behaviour among Islamist business groups and considers if this pragmatic calculus can make these actors preferable partners for liberal parties to forge alliances around mutual economic rewards. The paper will primarily focus on the case of Turkey where new economic alliances with the European Union pushed Turkey’s Islamist businessmen and their allies in the neo-Islamist Justice and Development Party (JDP) to a neo-liberal U-Turn. In order to test the generalizability of this economic model of moderation, I will compare Turkey’s Islamist business groups with their counterparts in Sudan, Egypt, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Comparing and contrasting the way in which these actors behave in different contexts, the paper will conclude if the Islamist businessmen can indeed constitute the long-needed moderates in Muslim politics, or whether the pragmatic calculus of these actors which facilitated moderation in some cases, such as Turkey, is likely to backfire in other circumstances.

Paper presenter: Ilhami Alkan Olsson (Assistant Professor, Istanbul University), "The legal and cultural causes and consequences of corruption in Turkey"
In both the domestic and international popular press, Turkey is largely perceived to be highly corrupt. According to the Transparency International Turkey's ranking fell to 61, from 2008''s place at number 58 and fell behind other Middle Eastern countries like Qatar (22), United Arab Emirates (30), Israel (32) and Jordan (49). This is so, despite the fact that the Turkish Government has taken a number of important steps in combating corruption, among others, its Third National Program adopted in 2008, in which Turkey promised the EU to make comprehensive amendments to the Turkish Penal Code, the Code on Criminal Procedure, and the Law of Misdemeanours in an effort to fight corruption and to establish a parliamentary political ethics commission to bring transparency to political financing. Despite the fact that historical and cultural roots of corruption is important in explaining the persistency of corruption in Turkey, a number of empirical studies have addressed the question of how to explain the incidence of corruption in different situations. This paper holds that although there is no doubt that some commonly acknowledged measures and policies, such as transparency, accountability and public participation are important in anticorruption efforts, the causes and consequences of corruption, and the solutions to reduce it, tend to be intertwined. Scholars have argued that an effective legal system is key in reducing the level of corruption. However, the correlation between effective legal system and reduced corruption is not always evident; this is so especially in the case of political corruption, where politicians are bribed to change laws for the benefit of special interest groups.