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Title: Turkey's state-business relations revisited : Islamic business associations and policymaking in the AKP era
Author: Ilhan, Ebru
ISNI:       0000 0004 5366 5268
Awarding Body: King's College London (University of London)
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2014
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Thirty years after the bloodiest coup in its modern history, Turkey is now a democratizing country with a liberal market and a blooming civil society. This transformation is attributed to the democratic potential and deeds of Turkey’s Islamic bourgeoisie, which has been an ardent supporter of the internationally monitored program of market liberalization and the EU integration/reform process since the 1990s. Muslim businesses’ curious relationship with the secular Turkish state and traditional business elites presents a compelling case for interest group theory. This dissertation evaluates the interest group theories’ propositions on policy-based interaction between state institutions and business interest groups to conclude that in most countries, hybrid models emerge, bringing together elements of pluralism and corporatism. The dissertation discusses the evolution and application in Turkey of interest group theories – particularly corporatism, clientelism and pluralism – and identifies the secular and Islamic business communities in Turkey to assess Islamic business associations’ economic and political influence on AKP era policies and business-state relations. The research offers two conclusions: Turkey’s Islamic business associations are able to access AKP government’s economic and social policymaking via traditional and new corporatist structures and to enjoy a close working relationship with the government and the state institutions. Their enhanced policy influence is as much a result of the moral, sociocultural and religious alignment between their members, Turkey’s Muslim conservative capitalists, and the AKP leadership as a consequence of the professionalism and organizational capacity of Islamic business associations. The prevalence of Muslim conservative actors in Turkey’s society, culture, politics and economy, as observed via Islamic business associations in this dissertation, do not pose a clear and imminent threat to the secular and democratic foundations of the Turkish Republic because Muslim conservative businessmen are pragmatists, who recognize and respond to domestic and transnational social, economic and political dynamics. Also, their religious affiliation is exaggerated to the extent that their Muslimness became a red herring, diverting the attention of spectators and analysts from the real problem with Turkey’s democratization and marketization process: the failures in the practice and implementation of the essential legal/institutional reforms that would bring about a plural, transparent and accountable policymaking environment.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available