Islamic Neoliberalism and Its Discontents: The Case of Turkey


  • Gorkem Altinors
    Bilecik University


Gorkem Altinors - Bilecik University 
Islamic Neoliberalism and Its Discontents: The Case of Turkey

This research endeavours to scrutinise the complex convergence of Islamism and neoliberalism within the context of Turkey. The examination of Islamism as a social movement and its nuanced interplay with the neoliberal political economy has gained significance, particularly in light of the ‘Turkish Model’s challenge to the principles of modernisation theory. Existing analyses often rely on dichotomies such as centre-periphery, strong state-weak society, and Islamism-secularism to explicate this phenomenon, even extending these dualistic features to study the authoritarian surge during the AKP rule. This study posits that these explanations exhibit shortcomings characterised by ontological exteriority and methodological nationalism. To overcome these challenges, a critical approach, countering ontological exteriority, and a global perspective, challenging methodological nationalism, are developed. This theoretical framework of Critical Global Political Economy draws inspiration from Gramscian notions of the ‘integral state’, aiming to reconcile the state, market, and civil society, and Ollmanian principles of the ‘philosophy of internal relations’, which elucidates the interconnectedness between the domestic, geopolitical, and global dimensions. In operationalising this framework, an analysis of the emergence of Islamic neoliberalism and its associated crises is undertaken through the lenses of urbanisation, education, and mass media in Turkey. Remarkably, developments in these domains exhibit a discernible interconnectedness both within national boundaries and across international and global spheres. The argument posits that the case of Islamic neoliberalism in Turkey serves as an exemplar, even a prototype, illustrating the intertwinement of domestic, geopolitical, and global dynamics. In contrast to perspectives grounded in ontological exteriority and methodological nationalism, this case underscores a dialectical unity across domains (e.g., urbanisation, education, mass media), spheres (e.g., the state, civil society, market), and levels (the domestic, the geopolitical, the global).