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Introduction: State and Society: Neither Lovers nor Haters

Introduction: State and Society: Neither Lovers nor Haters In both media accounts and scholarship, contemporary Turkey draws much attention as a hotbed of contestation between Islamists and secularists. Indeed, the ban of the popularly elected Islamist Welfare Party and of the headscarf in universities in 1998 reinforced an already predominant dichotomy between the repressively secular state and the Muslim actors. What deserves more attention, however, is the transformation in state-society relations since the late 1990s. From a state-society perspective, the recent secularist backlash remains understudied. Why does the secularist discontent peak at a time when Muslim actors in Turkey seem to have secularized and integrated into the secular polity and capitalist market? The answer lies in the shifting patterns of interaction between the secular state and Muslim actors. While Islamists abandoned their radical edge and integrated into the secular system and free market, the ability of the Turkish state to accommodate religion has likewise expanded. Put differently, through its nonconfrontational interactions with Islamists, the Turkish state has experimented with greater capacities for accommodating religious piety and politics. While admittedly this increased tolerance has not always been smooth or unilinear, the long-term trend has been toward "the politics of engagement"—that is, everyday negotiations and cooperation between Muslims and the secular state. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East Duke University Press

Introduction: State and Society: Neither Lovers nor Haters

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Duke University Press
ISSN
1089-201X
eISSN
1548-226X
DOI
10.1215/1089201X-2009-023
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

In both media accounts and scholarship, contemporary Turkey draws much attention as a hotbed of contestation between Islamists and secularists. Indeed, the ban of the popularly elected Islamist Welfare Party and of the headscarf in universities in 1998 reinforced an already predominant dichotomy between the repressively secular state and the Muslim actors. What deserves more attention, however, is the transformation in state-society relations since the late 1990s. From a state-society perspective, the recent secularist backlash remains understudied. Why does the secularist discontent peak at a time when Muslim actors in Turkey seem to have secularized and integrated into the secular polity and capitalist market? The answer lies in the shifting patterns of interaction between the secular state and Muslim actors. While Islamists abandoned their radical edge and integrated into the secular system and free market, the ability of the Turkish state to accommodate religion has likewise expanded. Put differently, through its nonconfrontational interactions with Islamists, the Turkish state has experimented with greater capacities for accommodating religious piety and politics. While admittedly this increased tolerance has not always been smooth or unilinear, the long-term trend has been toward "the politics of engagement"—that is, everyday negotiations and cooperation between Muslims and the secular state.

Journal

Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle EastDuke University Press

Published: Jan 1, 2009

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