Reluctant capitalists : the rise of neo-Islamic bourgeoisie in Turkey

Date
2013
Advisor
Heper, Metin
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Bilkent University
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English
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Abstract

The rise of the JDP to power in Turkey in 2002 marked a beginning of a new era in Turkey and Islamic world, in terms of enduring debate between Islam and Democracy and that of Islam and Capitalism. One of the significant outcomes of this politico-economic development was emergence of a neo-Islamic bourgeoisie in modern Turkey. The aim of my dissertation is to contextualize rise of this neo- Islamic bourgeoisie class against the backdrop of conflict and cooperation between Islam and Capitalism in general; and political, intellectual and economic transformations of Islamist actors over the last three decades in Turkey, in particular. As a case study, I will examine vision, mission and activities of a nongovernmental Islamic business organization, İGİAD i (Financial Business Ethics Foundation/İktisadi Girişim ve İş Ahlakı Derneği), which was an offshoot of MÜSİAD (The Independent Industrialists‘ and Businessmen‘s Association/ Müstakil İşadamları Derneği). The reason I chose to work on İGİAD is twofold: a) the organization has never been studied from and academic point of view; and b) it is an Islamic business organization which makes the most self-conscious effort to reconcile capitalist business principles and Islamic ethical values. Based on my research, I argue that neo-Islamic class found an ―opportunity space‖ in a Weberian sense, in the last three decades in the Turkish economypolitical context, and emerged as a result of an ongoing negotiation between selfperception of their Islamic identity and capitalism. Overcoming the challenges, and decreasing the ‗discursive tension‘ between Islam and capitalism, in this process, these Islamic actors defined and redefined Islam, secularism, capitalism, investment, banking, consumption, and luxury in such a way that both Islam and capitalism were considered flexible enough to accommodate each other. At the end of the process, they emerged as ―reluctant capitalists‖. Methodologically speaking, my dissertation will integrate my analysis of secondary and primary sources that I have been examining at Bilkent and Harvard libraries last three years; of Islamic media (newspapers, journals, TV channels) products; and more importantly in-depth interviews with members of neo-Islamic bourgeoisie class in Turkey, mostly with the members İGİAD.

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Keywords
Muslim bourgeoisie, Islam, Capitalism
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Published Version (Please cite this version)