Restoring Class Power over the Police: The Role of the International in Neoliberal Police Reform in Turkey

Demirbilek, Funda Hülagü
This thesis provides a critical analysis of the post-Soviet police transformation that has been on the agenda for about two decades in all over the world. To elaborate and rethink this analysis within a concrete historical process, the transformation of the police in Turkey is focused on. However, as the number of political science-based studies on the police are very limited, and as the dominant academic studies on neoliberal police reform have been determined by policy makers themselves, that state of affairs has necessitated a prior theoretical research to be made on the question of “what the police is”. For, it is proved to be impossible to produce critical knowledge on police transformation without developing a theoretical framework on the nature of the modern police and the tensions embedded in it. Hence, before analyzing the neoliberal period, the thesis attempts to develop a class-based theoretical framework on the formation of the modern police in the 19th century, and concludes that the modern police apparatus has been shaped by a specific political division of labour between the state power and the class power. The form of the police is defined according to by which of these powers it is determined more, a process which has been constituted since the 19th century by a transnational collective agency that includes various fractions of the ruling classes as well as police chiefs and police intellectuals. It is the historical materialist method that provides the theoretical toolset to make sense of the transformation taking place in the police. Having analyzed the neoliberal police reform by the help of this theoretical toolset, the thesis maintains that in the neoliberal era the police apparatuses have been reintroduced to the political sphere as “anti-statist non-state” actors, and started making transformative interventions in the modern political field. The police restructured as a non-state actor has been dissolving the modern political field through various strategies. The thesis specifies these strategies on the basis of the police transformation process in Turkey. The police apparatus in Turkey has been constructing itself even as a “civil society” organization, and redefining the processes of legitimation, and mass participation of people in politics –which are necessary aspects modern political field- through its new police ideology. The main argument of the thesis is that this process as a whole is one that restores the class power of the capitalists over the police.
Citation Formats
F. H. Demirbilek, “Restoring Class Power over the Police: The Role of the International in Neoliberal Police Reform in Turkey,” Ph.D. - Doctoral Program, Middle East Technical University, 2011.