Reproduction of the "new" Islamic middle class in the neoliberal landscape of Turkey
Öncü, Ahmet and Balkan, Mustafa Erol (2013) Reproduction of the "new" Islamic middle class in the neoliberal landscape of Turkey. In: Öncü, Ahmet and Balkan, Mustafa Erol and Balkan, Neşecan, (eds.) Neoliberal Landscape and The Rise of Islamic Capital: The Case of Turkey. Berghahn, New York, Oxford. (Accepted/In Press)
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In a well known passage in The Communist Manifesto Marx and Engels claim that the bourgeoisie 'creates a world after its own image.' Inspired by this observation we argue that in its struggle to attain hegemony, the rising Islamic bourgeoisie in Turkey is attempting to fashion a 'world in its own image,' and we present some of the results of a comprehensive survey with selected middle class families of both the 'laic' and 'Islamic' communities in Istanbul. The Islamic and laic bourgeoisies are two separate capitalist classes that emerged in two different social sectors during the 20th century evolution of modern Turkey. The Islamic bourgeoisie has overtaken the laic bourgeoisie as we enter the 21st century. The constitutionally backed political power and role of the army which was at the top echelons of the social hierarchy during the reign of the laic bourgeoisie has been eroding and political parties and the organizations of the civil society have been ascending; the importance of Ankara, the capital of the Republic, has been diminishing while Istanbul and several Anatolian cities have been gaining more prominent positions. These developments support the idea that these two ruling classes can be conceptualized as two distinct capitalist classes with two different types of orientations to hegemony building. We suggest that one of the underlying reasons behind this radical social change is the transition from national developmentalism (i.e. a version of the embedded liberalism on the periphery) to neoliberalism, and the concomitant inability of the laic bourgeoisie, due to its ideology being shaped in the era of national developmentalism, to fulfill its ruling class position in the neoliberal era which operates in accordance with the requirements of capital accumulation on the world scale as well as “accumulation by dispossession” .
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