Engendering "civil society"? : Discourses of women's organisations in Turkey

  • Asuman Ozgur Keysan

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis asks how women's organisations are affected by and responding to the promotion and institutionalisation of civil society in Turkey, as led by the European Union (EU). More specifically, I enquire into the civil society discourses articulated by members of women's organisations in the country in order to evaluate the extent to which they reflect or contest hegemonic views of civil society currently in circulation. I employ feminist critical discourse analysis to make sense of forty-one semi-structured interviews conducted with women activists from Kemalist, Islamic, Kurdish, feminist and anti-capitalist organisations, and of their group documents. I make four main sets of empirical arguments about this data, namely that members of women's organisations in Turkey articulate diverse discourses of civil society; that these discourses cut across different organisations in ways that belie what are often seen as fundamental ideological differences in the Turkish context; that these discourses show women activists in Turkey do not passively reproduce dominant views of civil society, even if many cling to it as a normative ideal; and that there is evidence of important critiques of and/or resistance to civil society, and of its outright rejection, meriting wider attention amongst activists and analysts. With these arguments, the thesis contributes to the literature on NGO construction of civil society in Turkey and the Middle East, and on the women's movement in Turkey, and to the feminist theorisation of civil society.
Date of Award22 Oct 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde

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