Borsuk, Imren, Pınar Dinç, Sinem Kavak and Pınar Sayan

Authoritarian Neoliberalism and Resistance in Turkey: Construction, Consolidation, and Contestation

This book offers new clarity on three important political concepts: authoritarianism, neoliberalism, and resistance. While debates on authoritarian resurgence have been limited to the examination of political factors (e.g., polarisation, conflict) until recently, the rising literature on ‘authoritarian neoliberalism’ highlights how the neoliberal restructuring of political economy bolsters the authoritarian tendencies of elected governments both in the Global South and the Global North.

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Imren Borsuk, Pınar Dinç, Sinem Kavak and Pınar Sayan:Consolidating and Contesting Authoritarian Neoliberalism in Turkey: Towards a Framework

During the early years of the ruling Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi (Justice and Development Party, AKP), Turkey was seen as a burgeoning democratic power propped up by economic prosperity in line with the reforms for European Union (EU) accession and International Monetary Fund (IMF) conditionality. However, 20 years later, it is considered an emblematic case of democratic backsliding in line with rising poverty and inequalities that have been amplified as a result of sweeping neoliberal reforms and authoritarian consolidation in the country. The recent literature has identified these concomitant and complementary modes of authoritarian governance and neoliberal policies in Turkey as ‘authoritarian neoliberalism’. In this chapter, the authors discuss the dynamics of consolidation of authoritarian neoliberalism in Turkey as well as the acts of contention against it. Building mainly on the eight case studies presented in this volume, the authors put forward a framework that explains the consolidation of authoritarian neoliberalism in Turkey through the mechanisms of executive centralisation, autocratic legalism, cronyism, violence-fuelled rentier accumulation, criminalisation and stigmatisation, and contestations against authoritarian neoliberalism through strikes, protests, demonstrations, network building, litigation, everyday struggles, and armed acts of contention.

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