The Kurdish Struggle in Turkey as a “Total Social Movement”, 2013-2015

Elsa Tulin Sen


The Kurdish movement’s decision to operate within and in opposition to the Turkish state reached a peak between 2013 and 2015. Three major events took place during this time period: the launch of the 2013 peace process, the 2014 presidential elections, and the June 2015 general elections. The principal driving force behind these campaigns was an important project put forward by Kurdish activists, which they termed as Türkiyelileşme [Turkeyfication]: an inclusive definition of national identity, which accepted being an integral part of Turkey while at the same time belonging to an ethnic group other than Turkish.

Basing the argument on the Kurdish activists’ capacity to combine civil society activism and their promotion of democracy with the articulation of a national identity, this article considers the dynamics of the Kurdish movement along the lines of a “total social movement” between 2013 and 2015. Put forward by the sociologist Alain Touraine, a total social movement is a three-dimensional movement with social, political and national levels of action. It embodies fierce opposition between adversaries, but does not opt for violence no matter what the challenges are.  


Touraine; Total Social Movements; the Solidarity Movement; Ethnicity; Kurds; Turkey

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