The Internationalization of the Turkish State, 1980-2006

Şahin, Sevgi (2010) The Internationalization of the Turkish State, 1980-2006. PhD thesis, University of Trento.

PDF - Doctoral Thesis


This dissertation examines the role of social forces in the internationalization of the Turkish state between 1980 and 2006. The internationalization process refers to the processes by which the interests, strategies, and alliances of national and transnational capital are increasingly privileged vis-à-vis other social groups. It also includes the opening up of the Turkish economy to international competition and the restructuring of the hierarchy of the state institutions in favor of those agencies that act as links between the world economy and the national economy, such as the Treasury and the Central Bank. This process is neither the result of market constraints nor does it stem from domestic political institutions. It is also not an outcome of an ideational process that guides policymakers for following a specific path that is determined by neo-liberal ideas as put forward by constructivists. The dissertation contributes to the international political economy (IPE) literature by highlighting that existing studies on the transformation of states under global markets have failed to problematize the social forces’ establishment of neo-liberal hegemony within a broader historical structure. Rather than focusing on the role of states and markets, this dissertation, rooted in a neo-Gramscian perspective, singles out social forces as the most important agents of state transformation. It is hypothesized that change can be located in broader historical structures that create new social forces as bases of power for the internationalization of the Turkish state. The findings of the study indicate that economic reforms such as the privatization of state owned enterprises or giving autonomy to the Turkish Central Bank are a function of an alliance of diverse social forces composed of market-oriented capital groups, privileged workers, national bureaucracies, and government officials. These actors emerged in the post-1980 period due to dramatic transformations in Turkish society and the economy initiated by the process of neo-liberal globalization. The unification of diverse identities and interests around the strategy of further integrating with the global economy were crucial in the recent internationalization process of the Turkish state. Another major finding reveals that internationalization of states should be seen as politically open and contested processes since counter-hegemonic groups challenge ongoing reforms and existing power relations. The dissertation shows that market-oriented social forces sidelined resistant groups through a discourse and practice that naturalized a consensus for restructuring the Turkish state along liberal lines. This process took place by disseminating the belief that liberal economic reforms would bring material and other benefits to all and that the alternatives were worse. Such a communicative process played a crucial role in transforming the Turkish state into a more internationalized form at the end of 1990s. This central proposition of the dissertation is derived through an in-depth case study method which included intensive interviews with major social forces ranging from the representatives of trade unions and business associations to the market-oriented bureaucrats of the Treasury, the Central Bank, and the Privatization Administration that took active part in the internationalization process.

Item Type:Doctoral Thesis (PhD)
Doctoral School:International Studies
PhD Cycle:XIX
Subjects:Area 14 - Scienze politiche e sociali
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