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Rethinking religio-politics in Turkey through the prism of religious majoritarianism

Lord, Ceren (2014) Rethinking religio-politics in Turkey through the prism of religious majoritarianism. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis seeks to establish a framework for examining why certain contexts have proven conducive to the politicisation of religious identities. Prevalent scholarly approaches have treated politicised religious (or religio-political) movements chiefly as a ‘bottom-up’ reaction to the effects of modernisation, including secularism and capitalist development. In the Turkish case, the dominant narratives have placed religio-politics within the context of an ‘authoritarian’ or ‘assertive’ state secularism and have explained the rise of Islamism as a reaction or/and a product of democratisation. These approaches take for granted the notion of a ‘secular state’ versus a ‘religious society’. In contrast, ‘religious majoritarianism’ implies a more complex and intertwined relationship between state, religion and society. It refers to a political structure according to which a religiously demarcated group’s dominance and monopoly over political and economic resources is legitimated on the basis of its numeric majority within the nation. This thesis suggests that the degree to which the Turkish nation-state became religious majoritarian was determined by the extent to which (i) majority–minority boundaries were defined along religious lines during the late Ottoman period and (ii) the way these became reflected in state institutions subsequently. This institutionalisation then triggered long-lasting path-dependent effects leading to the persistence of religious delineations within the community and influencing the nature of political and economic competition. In sum, the resurgence of religiopolitics under the AKP party should be understood not as a break with a secular pattern of state-building but as a path-dependent process occurring within the longer-term dynamics of nation-state building.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2015 Ceren Lord
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JQ Political institutions Asia
Sets: Departments > Government
Supervisor: Kissane, Bill and Hutchinson, John

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