Blad, Cory and Banu Koçer. (2012) Political Islam and State Legitimacy in Turkey: The Role of National Culture in Neoliberal State-Building. International Political Sociology, doi: 10.1111/j.1749-5687.2012.00150.x
© 2012 International Studies Association
The rise of Islamist parties to positions of political dominance in Turkey has been the subject of inquiry for scholars and concern for some American and European observers. This paper argues that this rise of Islamist political efficacy is the result of efforts to maintain state legitimacy in an era of neoliberalism. The integration of neoliberalism as a dominant political economic ideology reduces state economic regulatory capacities and social service endowment. The effect of this retrenchment is a commensurate reduction in state legitimation, as national populations view the state as unable—or unwilling—to meet requisite economic protectionist demands that were formerly exchanged for legitimate support. In an attempt to retain legitimate authority, neoliberal states are forced to move beyond economic protectionist strategies and embrace increasingly cultural legitimation approaches. We juxtapose the use of economic protectionist strategies in the 1945–1980 period with the integration of Islam as a cultural legitimation strategy following the 1980 coup in Turkey.