Higher Education

, Volume 55, Issue 2, pp 155–170 | Cite as

Mini skirts and headscarves: undergraduate student perceptions of secularism in Turkish higher education

  • Reitumetse Obakeng Mabokela
  • Fatma Nevra Seggie
Original Paper


This article is based on a qualitative study that examines the perceptions of advanced undergraduate students in five Turkish state universities regarding their understanding of the concept of secularism and its manifestation within the higher education sector. The study further illuminates these students’ perspectives of how the university may change in relation to their understanding of secularism. This inquiry was guided by four central questions posed to the students: (1) what is your understanding of the concept of secularism?; (2) how does secularism manifest within universities in Turkey and your institution in particular?; (3) are there aspects of your university you would like to see change as a result of secularism?; and (4) in what ways has your identity influenced your academic decisions?


Secularism Turkish higher education Institutional culture Student identity 


  1. Ayoob, M. (2004). Turkey’s multiple paradoxes. Orbis, 48(3), 451–463.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Berkes, N. (1998). The development of secularism in Turkey. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  3. Cherry, M. (2003). When a Muslim nation embraces secularism. The Humanist, 62(3), 21–23.Google Scholar
  4. Erdodan, M. (1999). Religious freedom in the Turkish constitution. The Muslim World, 89(3/4), 377–388.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Fuller, G. E. (2004). Turkey’s strategic model: Myths and realities. The Washington Quarterly, 27(3), 51–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Gole, N. (1997). Secularism and Islamism in Turkey: The making of elites and counter Elites. The Middle East Journal, 51(1), 46–58.Google Scholar
  7. Gulalp, H. (2003). Whatever happened to secularization? The multiple Islams in Turkey. The South Atlantic Quarterly, 102(2/3), 381–395.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Hatiboglu, M. (2000). Turkiye universite tarihi (2nd ed.). Ankara: Selvi Yayinevi.Google Scholar
  9. Marshall, G. A. (2005). Ideology, progress, and dialogue: A comparison of feminist and Islamist women’s approaches to the issues of head covering and work in Turkey. Gender and Society, 19(1), 104–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Merriam, S. B. (1998). Qualitative research and case study applications in education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers.Google Scholar
  11. Metz, H. C. (1995). A country study: Turkey. Prepared by the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress under the Country Studies/Area Handbook Program sponsored by the Department of the Army. Retrieved March 5, 2005, from Scholar
  12. Mizikaci, F. (2006). Higher education in Turkey. Bucharest: UNESCO/CEPES.Google Scholar
  13. Monsma, S. V., & Soper, J. C. (1997). The challenge of pluralism: Church and state in five democracies. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.Google Scholar
  14. Prasad A., & Prasad P. (2002). Otherness at large identity and difference in the new globalized organizational landscape. In I. Aaltio, & A. J. Mills (Eds.), Gender, identity and the culture of organizations (pp. 57–71). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  15. Strauss, A. L. (1987). Qualitative analysis for social scientists. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Yavuz, M. H. (2003). The case of Turkey. Daedalus, 132(3), 59–61.Google Scholar
  17. Yuksekogretim Kanunu (n.d.). Retrieved at June, 13, 2005, from Scholar
  18. Yuksekogretim Kurulu, T. C. (n.d. a). The Turkish higher education system (Part 2 – Governance). Retrieved June 13, 2005, from Scholar
  19. Yuksekogretim Kurulu, T. C. (n.d. b). The law on higher education system. Retrieved June 13, 2005, from Scholar
  20. Yuksekogretim Kurulu, T. C. (n.d. c). The Turkish higher education system (Part 3 – Current Status). Retrived June 13, 2005, from Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Reitumetse Obakeng Mabokela
    • 1
  • Fatma Nevra Seggie
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Educational AdministrationMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  2. 2.Department of Educational AdministrationMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

Personalised recommendations