Tracing Cultural Change in Turkey’s Experience of Democratization: Unexpected Dialogues on Intolerance – By Metin Koca / Routledge, 2023

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Does democracy require an agreement on specific foundational values? Bringing insights from Turkey to the study of democratization, this book argues that democracy may rather be about acknowledging the disagreement over values before negotiating over other concerns, such as rights, freedoms, capabilities, and duties.

It explores this idea by examining three landscapes of culture in Turkey, which have been the subjects of persistent stories regarding the unequal relationship between the self and the other. These include LGBT visibility and the entertainment sector, women and clothing, and Alevism and funerals. Through these case studies, the book analyses the remaking of (in)tolerance through the integration of LGBT representations into broader political struggles over values, the assertion of women’s rights and freedoms from traditional values surrounding dress, and the conflict between essentialist intolerance and the syncretic traditions of Alevi identity.

Bringing these landscapes together with the surrounding cultural tensions in Turkey and the West, Tracing Cultural Change in Turkey’s Experience of Democratization will be a valuable resource for students and scholars of Middle Eastern studies and politics, gender studies and cultural studies.

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Metin Koca works as a European Research Council postdoctoral researcher at Istanbul Bilgi University, Turkey. Koca received his Ph.D. in Social and Political Sciences from the European University Institute, Italy, in January 2020. He is interested in the dynamics of cultural change and reproduction, as well as the politics of recognition, tolerance, and difference.


‘Metin Koca’s book is a critique of the dominant perspective that places « values » at the heart of democratic transformation. Instead, Koca provocatively argues that what matters is the acknowledgement of disagreement over values. This insightful book is likely to initiate a fruitful debate.’
Asef BayatBastian Professor of Global and Transnational Studies, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, USA

‘Koca’s valuable and innovative study shows that democratization depends on recognizing that we will disagree about our values rather than on forging agreement on them. The author demonstrates this through exploring the dynamics of cultural change in contemporary Turkey in the areas of entertainment, women’s clothing and Alevi religious ritual.’
Katerina DalacouraAssociate Professor in International Relations, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK

‘How can a democracy survive a strong ideological divide among its public opinion without falling into a civil war? Metin Koca offers an original and insightful approach, analyzing the ethic of debating that arose spontaneously in Turkish civil society when sensitive moral and religious issues are discussed in public.’
Olivier RoyProfessor at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies and the School of Transnational Governance, European University Institute, Italy

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