The New ‘ideology’ of secularism in Turkey: a critical inquiry

Ercan, Damla
This thesis aims to analyse the new interpretation of secularism, which was adopted by the Constitutional Court of Turkey and thus become integrated into ‘the state’ in 2012. Having long been recognized with its controversial interpretation of secularism, allegedly being hostile towards religion, the Court changed its interpretation by redefining secularism with an emphasis on ‘freedom’ of religion. This study intends to critically engage with this shift manifested in a strategic ‘state’ institution by regarding it as the new ‘ideology’ of secularism and to examine it within the broader framework of ‘ideological-political’ instance of the AKP’s ‘hegemonic’ articulation from a Gramscian perspective. Through the analysis of the judgements of the Court related to secularism, which were passed between 1971-2016, the former and new ‘ideologies’ of secularism are analysed in terms of their normative imagery of ‘state’, ‘society’ and ‘religion’ as well as the constituted nexus of relationships among them. The analysis of the new ‘ideology’ of secularism and its comparison to the former one illuminate how it redefined ‘the state’s position towards religion and in which ways it enabled the new uses of ‘the state’ apparatuses within a ‘hegemonic’ processes. In this direction, after having clarified the role of new ‘ideology’ of secularism in the reproduction of ‘consent’ and building a social alliance against ‘Kemalist’ version of secularism in initial years, the thesis explores how the implementation of it into ‘the state’ connects to the changing strategies within ‘hegemonic’ project. Therefore, the potential impacts of the new ‘ideology’ of secularism inscribed into ‘the state’ in further consolidation of mass support and in shaping of ‘common-sense’ of sociality, in which religion is intended to be made influential through ‘ethical-state’, are elaborated. As a result, this thesis argues that the adoption of the new ‘ideology’ of secularism in a strategic ‘state’ institution within ‘state-system’ should be understood within ‘hegemonic’ process, thus ‘power’ relations, in which it is embedded in.  


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Citation Formats
D. Ercan, “The New ‘ideology’ of secularism in Turkey: a critical inquiry,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2016.