Uneven Development and Non-Western Modernities: A Historical Sociology Guide to the New Turkey

Oğuzhan Göksel


The term “New Turkey” refers to the ongoing formation of a new socio-political system by the incumbent AKP (Justice and Development Party) administration. A neglected issue within the existing literature is the study of New Turkey in the broad context of social theory beyond Turkish studies. Deterministic narratives of globalization have long presented Turkey as a “beacon of hope” in the Muslim world, a westernizing society that would supposedly combine liberal democracy, Islamic values, secularism and free-market capitalism. In contrast to these expectations, today the New Turkey constitutes an illiberal polity, a neoliberal economy based on clientelism and an increasingly Islamized social environment. How and why the Turkish modernization experience has gradually culminated in an authoritarian non-Western variant of modernity?  

This article utilizes a historical sociology approach based on the Uneven and Combined Development Theory (U&CD) to locate the origins of the unexpected rise of New Turkey in our age. It is argued that complex interactions between elements of Western modernity (e.g. secularization and democratization), various social engineering programs launched since the late Ottoman era and Turkey’s own path dependent trajectory have gradually produced a socio-economic and political model that radically diverges from the Western experience.     


New Turkey; Historical Sociology; Modernization; Democratization; Economic Development; Clientelism; Eurocentrism; Uneven and Combined Development

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.29311/nmes.v8i1.2906


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