Turkish sociology in a sociology of knowledge perspective : the double-bind of survival/identity

Mühürdaroğlu, Anıl
Ottoman-Turkish modernization discourse is structured on the bases of a double-bind between survival and identity which had emerged as a result of the belief that a break had taken place in the Ottoman Empire in the unity between the methods of governing and the qualities with which Ottomans defined themselves. Debates on the disruption of this unity had been conducted in a period when linear conception of history became the predominant framework for understanding historical processes. As a result, categories of survival and identity were regarded as two dichotomous terms which were discussed with reference to other dichotomies like East and West or traditional and modern. Sociology became a popular field of knowledge in the late Ottoman and early republican period and employed by intellectuals with the intention of finding solutions to the problems which emanate from these dichotomies. Postwar Turkish sociology continued to deal with the same question. In this period, sociology in Turkey was divided into two groups as structure- and culture-oriented sociologies. The former tried to tackle the survival/identity double-bind by diminishing the category of identity into a dependent variable and formulated a scheme of modernization on the bases of a future-oriented and cosmopolitan identity. The latter preferred to connect the fate of the intention of preserving the traditional qualities of the society to the success of the modernization process and turned the struggle for survival into a project for the restoration of cultural identity. This study will analyze these two schools which set the main course of modernization debates in Turkish sociology.