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Title: Explaining Europeanisation in Turkish water management policy : a sociological institutionalism perspective?
Author: Demirbilek, Burcin
ISNI:       0000 0004 7962 8529
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2019
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Rational institutionalism's theoretical explanations for external Europeanisation focus on material incentives such as accession conditionality in determining change in non-EU states. However, such exogenous explanations struggle to interpret ongoing Europeanisation where accession incentives have declined or even reversed ('stalled' accession) but institutional adjustment still continues. This Europeanisation phenomenon is evident in Turkey, a state that had actively pursued EU membership between 1999 and 2004, resulting in domestic institutional reform to align governance structures with the EU. Thereafter, Europeanisation has reversed in some policy sectors but nonetheless continued in others such as Turkish water policy, despite a declining accession process. Rational institutional arguments therefore appear to lose explanatory power for such events post-2005. An alternative theoretical proposition forwarded is that the EU accession process embedded a self-sustaining cycle of socialisation through social learning around water policy norms amongst policy actors that has continued beyond this accession imperative. This thesis therefore aims to test the explanatory value of such a sociological institutionalism perspective for Europeanisation in Turkish water policy. Meeting this aim entailed attaining four main objectives: (i) determining the implementation of EU water policy norms under the Water Framework Directive (WFD); (ii) ascertaining why Turkish policymakers continue to implement the WFD in the absence of credible EU membership incentives; (iii) applying a sociological institutionalism theoretical perspective to analyse whether it can interpret Europeanisation occurring; (iv) examining implications of the research for future policy. To meet these objectives, qualitative research methods, including analysis of documentary sources, semi-structured interviews with policy elites and participant observation, were utilised to examine WFD implementation at national and river basin levels within an embedded case study research design. This thesis concludes that ongoing Europeanisation in this sector can be explained by a sociological institutionalism perspective in terms of social learning leading to 3 socialisation around EU water policy norms. However, such Europeanisation is evidently slower at the river basin level. Recommendations for enhancing implementation therefore include increasing actor participation and communication in decision-making.
Supervisor: Benson, D. ; Russel, D. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: water ; Europeanisation ; sociological institutionalism ; Turkey