Social Transformation in Modern Turkey : an Analysis of the Role of Public Intellectuals in the Post-1980s





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This dissertation aims to analyze the role of pluralist public intellectuals in the social transformations in Turkey by examining their historical, economic, and cultural interaction with civil and political society after the 1980s. Overall, this dissertation examines the contribution of these intellectuals to the cultural reforms, political processes and changing collective consciousness in Turkish society between 1983 and June, 2015, through an analysis of their original discourses and their engagement with social groups and the media. First, this project analyzes the emergence of pluralist public intellectuals in the post-1980s, including journalists Hasan Cemal and Fehmi Koru, as well as academics Nilüfer Göle and Mehmet Altan. The analysis describes these intellectuals engagement in the pro-transformation liberal-right counter-hegemonic sphere against the hegemonic position of the military. This engagement includes the intellectuals activity within a newly emerged private media, with their influential discourses on widening anti-militarism and the emergence of a second republic (with a more democratic and pluralist stance), as well as their paving the way for Islamic modernism toward the inclusion of the pro-Islamic movements in the public sphere. Second, this dissertation examines the pro-transformation liberal-right historical bloc that emerged from the reformist Islamic political movement AKP of the 2000s. The analysis here is based on the function of pluralist public intellectuals as an intellectual bloc in legitimizing, e.g., reforms for civilian control of the military, the Islamization of the Turkish society, as well as Kurdish involvement in the public sphere. Third, this project delivers analyses of post-2010 developments by representing the dissolution of the pro-transformation liberal-right historical bloc through the dissolution of the intellectual bloc overall. The analysis presents the emergence and development in this period of the pro-transformation left counterhegemonic sphere that has been visible since the Gezi Park Protests in 2013, as well as the development of a new pro-transformation left historical bloc thereafter. In presenting a new intellectual bloc from this period, the case study includes three intellectuals authors Ihsan Eliacik and Foti Benlisoy and film producer and politician Sirri Süreyya Önder analyzing their contribution to the renovation of the left. In this way, the analysis covers various subordinated social groups such as the emergence of the Gezi community through the involvement of Kurds, Alevis, LGBT people, Anti-Capitalist Muslims and women s movements within the scope of Islam s involvement in the new left, as well as the pluralization of the public sphere.




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