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Europeanisation and civil society: the early impact of EU pre-accession policies on Turkish NGOs

Ketola, Markus (2011) Europeanisation and civil society: the early impact of EU pre-accession policies on Turkish NGOs. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Turkey’s European Union (EU) membership aspirations form a critical junction on the road to further European integration. During the past decade, the role of nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) as facilitators of the accession process has grown exponentially in relevance. In Turkey’s case, specific policies have emerged to support this element of the pre-accession process. By targeting NGOs, these policies aim to Europeanise and democratise Turkish civil society and in so doing prepare Turkey for eventual EU accession. This logic draws on the liberal democratic tradition that anticipates democratisation to be a key outcome of NGO support. The thesis questions the appropriateness of such assumptions, since Turkish NGOs respond to EU policy in a variety of locally meaningful ways that may circumvent the stated policy outcomes. The wider the gap between policy and reality, the more space there is for NGOs to exercise their agency, and more uncertain the Europeanisation processes become. The thesis starts out by juxtaposing the European and Turkish perspectives in turn. The EU approach suggests that NGOs behave similarly across different cultural contexts and can be called upon to perform a variety of roles deemed useful for the overall policy process. However, civil society in Turkey has developed along a different trajectory, fostering NGOs that are highly politicised in their activities and cultivating social debates that are essentialist rather than compromising in nature. The latter part of the thesis explores different aspects of this disconnect. The relationships NGOs construct with each other and with governmental bodies are politicised and lack the culture of cooperation expected by EU policy. NGOs exhibit different reactions to EU funding: some embrace it while others pursue it unsuccessfully and grow resentful, or even reject any external funding outright. These differences lead NGOs to generate a variety of survival strategies that minimise the impact of EU policy on changing NGO behaviour where the change is unwelcome by the NGO, or maximise the impact where NGO and EU interests are mutually advanced. The thesis examines how the Europeanisation of Turkish civil society unfolds through a policy process that both affects and is shaped by NGO actors, where the eventual outcomes of EU policy remain uncertain.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2011 Markus Ketola
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
Sets: Departments > Social Policy
Supervisor: Howell, Jude and Ishkanian, Armine

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