Secularism”: A Key to Turkish Politics?

  • Dietrich Jung
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Governance, Security, and Development book series (GSD)


In 1973, Serif Mardin claimed that, for a sound understanding of Turkish politics, the center-periphery polarization is of essential importance, and that the Turkish Republic inherited this social cleavage between official and popular culture from its Ottoman predecessor (Mardin 1973). In a similar vein, Nilüfer Göle argued more recently that the “cultural gap between the elites of the center and those at the periphery” stood behind the confrontation between secularists and Islamists in the 1990s (Göle 1997: 52). Islamist movements express the aspirations of a new “counter-elite” that attacks the vested interests of Turkey’s Westernized elite.1 Most ironically, this counter-elite draws on the same social resources as their Kemalist predecessors have done: the “cultural capital” that they have acquired via modern education. In this respect, the Islamist counter-elite represents a mirror image of the previous secular republican elite whose cultural preeminence became the main target of Islamist movements (Göle 1997: 57).


Political Legitimacy State Elite Turkish Society Turkish State Political Autonomy 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Dietrich Jung and Catharina Raudvere 2008

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  • Dietrich Jung

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