Modern Turkey’s emergence was a nationalist struggle that aimed to cultivate youth as secular citizens. Almost a century later, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) attempts to re-model youth through a new ethno-religious nationalist project. This study argues that different from the secular Kemalist social engineering that dominated the state’s youth policy for decades, the AKP relies on the intermediary agency of Islamist-conservative and government-oriented civil society to shape young generations and convey ethno-religious nationalism to youth. Seventeen government-oriented youth organizations illustrate the extent of the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) quest for a new national identity and cultural hegemony within the broader context of Turkey’s steady decline into an authoritarian regime. The findings—based on original fieldwork conducted between October 2017–June 2019—demonstrate youth organizations’ country-wide grassroots engagement in four categories: indoctrination, extra-curricular training, service provision in the education sector, and street activism and humanitarian work. Their self-defined goals, ideological roots and grassroots reach inject a new disciplinary ethos and statist values in youth towards shaping them as Muslim and nationalist ‘ideal citizens’. The study offers insights on the societal aspects of authoritarian regime building and cautions that crafting ‘successful’ authoritarian regimes is not a one-way process that takes place only at the formal institutional level. A broad range of societal players and coalitions, including civil society, play a critical role in authoritarian regime building.

Work for the Nation, Obey the State, Praise the Ummah: Turkey’s Government-oriented Youth Organizations in Cultivating a New Nation

YABANCI, BILGE
2019

Abstract

Modern Turkey’s emergence was a nationalist struggle that aimed to cultivate youth as secular citizens. Almost a century later, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) attempts to re-model youth through a new ethno-religious nationalist project. This study argues that different from the secular Kemalist social engineering that dominated the state’s youth policy for decades, the AKP relies on the intermediary agency of Islamist-conservative and government-oriented civil society to shape young generations and convey ethno-religious nationalism to youth. Seventeen government-oriented youth organizations illustrate the extent of the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) quest for a new national identity and cultural hegemony within the broader context of Turkey’s steady decline into an authoritarian regime. The findings—based on original fieldwork conducted between October 2017–June 2019—demonstrate youth organizations’ country-wide grassroots engagement in four categories: indoctrination, extra-curricular training, service provision in the education sector, and street activism and humanitarian work. Their self-defined goals, ideological roots and grassroots reach inject a new disciplinary ethos and statist values in youth towards shaping them as Muslim and nationalist ‘ideal citizens’. The study offers insights on the societal aspects of authoritarian regime building and cautions that crafting ‘successful’ authoritarian regimes is not a one-way process that takes place only at the formal institutional level. A broad range of societal players and coalitions, including civil society, play a critical role in authoritarian regime building.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/10278/3722197
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