2 Kasım 2010 Salı

Reading Şerif Mardin


Şerif Mardin, "Ideology and Religion in the Turkish Revolution," IJMES, vol. 2 (1971), 197-211

The Turkish Revolution was not the instrument of a discontented bourgeoisie, it did not ride on a wave of peasant dissatisfaction with the social order, and it did not have as target the sweeping away of feudal privileges, but it did take as a target the values of the Ottoman ancient régime. In this sense it was a revolutionary movement.

By replacing the official religion with the principle of laicisme, Atatürk erased the possibilities of legitimation offered by the framework. The ‘little man’s’ religion was thus placed in an ambiguous situation: tolerated but not secured. It was this tension which Atatürk hoped would work in favor of secularization in the long run.

French vs. Turkish Revolution

1 Violence and Jacobinism vs. no Turkish Robespierres

2 Mass support vs. no tricoteuses

3 Adjustment of class relations vs. an intra-bureaucratic struggle (Embryonic classes, Patrimonialism)

- Esprit révolutionnaire vs. the state’s supremacy maintained (Young Turks)

The Republican project is the logical end of the Young Turks (1908).

- Autonomous civil society vs. characteristics of the Turkish polity

Religion at Work

3 A strongly anchored basis of community

4 A Philosophy and world view functioning better than ideas

5 One of the social and economic bases of power in provinces

6 A state Institution and ideology

Cases: Gazi tradition (heteredox Islam)

Kadı (both the linkage of the ruler with the lower classes, and an alternative polity)

Orthodox Islam (In the lack of intermediary structures; popular structures linked to the ruling institution, and political legitimacy –forming upper class politico-ideological basis)

Heteredox Islam (Social cohesion, Identity formation, socialization)

Mardin has a structural-functionalist and revisionist approach.

He applies the literature of revolution on modernization.

The peculiarity of the Turkish revolution, Mardin claims, that it alters the cultural values. However, if you want to take out Islam, then you should replace it, he says.



Şerif Mardin, "Religion and Secularism in Turkey," in Ergun Özbudun and Ali Kazancıgil, eds., Atatürk, the Founder of a Modern State

The Ottoman Past

Analyzing the Ottoman past is important because we see its continuation in Atatürk’s secularization reforms:

a) empiricism of Ottoman secular officialdom

b) Legislation as the method

1 Ottoman Empire as a both “Islamic” and “bureaucratic” state (later, ulema vs. secular bureaucrats from Rüşdiye, Mülkiye etc.)

2 Bureaucratic style: Hard-headed, empirically minded and pragmatic, belief in science, focused on the “reason of state”: how to survive the state. (“If Western institutions could rejuvenate the state, they would be adopted”) e.g. Ahmet Vefik Pasha.

1890s; Abdülhamit II’s education reforms:

high professionalism,

the concept of change,

books as mentors,

social projects for a hypothetical future (e.g. A Very wakeful Sleep)

new thinking, Ziya Gökalp (nation and civilization)

A New Integrative System For The Collective

1 Consciousness building rooted in science (Western civilization)

The Turkish History Thesis

The Sun-Language Thesis

Durkheimian Solidarism

2 How is the consistency of secularizing reforms possible?

Atatürk’s ends: 1) destroying control, 2) cultural Westernization for the republic

Common denominator is the liberation of the individual from the collective constraints of the Muslim community: Mahalle-Gemienschaft (protected, determined, births celebrated, marriages arranged, mosque at the center, primary education taken, a set of morals, norms, ascriptive, traditional…)

No use of mahalle in nation-building, replacing it with the society-Gesellschaft (cemiyet-i beşeriye)

A rejection of mahalle dress codes.

People’s Houses

3 After 1960s, Islam competing with Marxism

Kemalist goals (forming a new identity and arousing feelings around it) failed. Kemalism could not fill in the gaps as new social conditions were created by social mobilization.



Şerif Mardin, "Projects as Methodology - Some Thoughts on Modern Turkish Social Science," in Reşat Kasaba and Sibel Bozdoğan, eds., Rethinking Modernity and National Identity in Turkey (University of Washington Press: Seattle, 1997), 66-77

The methodological lesson to draw from my explorations is that the exclusively Western mechanistic-positivistic or functionalist view of society used by the inheritors of the tradition of devlet can be enriched by an approach that takes the life-world and the “everyday” into account.

It is a radical critique on both Kemalists and Marxists. Mardin maps/classifies/names all the authors in terms of their methodology and conceptual tools. He also offers an alternative methodology.

What is the right level to focus on? Modernization is visible, approachable at macro-level, but at life level? Just studying the state, modernization cannot be understood. Focusing only on the ideology of state, misses out microsociology.

Alternative: Studying Islam as a discourse and how it creates a connection between state and society is important. How? Analyzing the language and folk Islam!

Early Republic created an emotional/cultural void (meaninglessness).

Mardin observes continuity in social change (by state in topdown manner).


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