The Politics of the Family: Religious Affairs, Civil Society, and Islamic Media in Turkey
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractSince the ruling pro-Islamist Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi, AKP hereafter) came to power in 2002, there has been a general transformation in Turkish politics from a secularist orientation toward a mainstream Muslim conservative line. This conservative political transformation manifests itself in the socio-cultural domain in terms of a proliferation of discourses on "family crisis" and the "decline of family values" as well as social programs and projects aimed at "strengthening the Turkish family." While the family crisis discourse situates the family as the source of socio-economic and demographic problems facing the Turkish society, strengthening the family is offered as the primary solution to these problems since the family is conceptualized as the foundation of a firm and stable social order. The Turkish state's intervention into the family sphere has occupied a central place in the governmental and legislative policies of the state since the rise of modern forms of governance in the nineteenth century in the Ottoman Empire. What is novel about the configuration of family governance under the AKP government, however, is the extension of family governance beyond the formal institutions of the state to a wide array of actors, institutions, mechanisms, and rationalities and the deployment of religious or religiously-inspired actors, institutions and organizations in the conceptualization, production, and implementation of social programs and projects aimed at "strengthening the Turkish family." Within the past decade, this concern for maintaining family values and fortifying the family institution has been widely circulated among Muslim conservative circles, and the family has constituted the foundation of most social projects designed and implemented by not only formal political institutions such as the Ministry of the Family and Social Policies and AKP-governed municipalities but also various religious or religiously-inspired organizations and institutions such as the Presidency of Religious Affairs, Islamic civil society organizations, and Islamic television channels. This dissertation focuses on the role of these religious or religiously-inspired actors, institutions, and organizations in shaping the politics of the family in contemporary Turkey. It argues that the increasing prominence given to the family by the state and these religiously-inspired institutions and organizations points to emerging forms of governance as well as reconfigurations of religion and secularism in contemporary Turkey. It also demonstrates how the dominant political discourse on declining family values and the social projects that aim at recuperating these values situate the family as an object of governmental intervention as well as a site of discursive proliferation, disciplinary practices, and biopolitical governance.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Middle Eastern and North African Studies