The glorification of civil society: international debates and Turkish reflections

Arıner, Hakkı Onur
This thesis aims to problematize the assumptions behind the glorification of civil society as a new and progressive actor in politics along with their political and ideological implications. It is argued that the assumptions behind the glorification of civil society are conceptually misleading and politically disabling. The portrayal of “civil society” or “global civil society” as a homogenous as well as inherently democratic and peaceful sphere that is opposed to an equally homogenous power-seeking state has emerged as a necessity for attributing emancipatory meanings to the concept. One of the most important implications of this conceptualization has been the taming of politics since the state, which is conventionally understood as the main site for political struggle, has apparently been devalued as a respectable political target to be fought over. Interestingly, the taming of politics through a glorified civil society has become a popular discourse shared and reproduced by both the New Right and certain sections of the Left. The thesis sheds light to the development of such a discourse at the global level as well as in Turkey within the context of the rise and spread of neoliberal globalization.