Perceptions of democracy in Turkey in the period 1945-1960: An analysis of letters sent to Ahmet Emi̇n Yalman by urban middle-class readers


Thesis Type: Postgraduate

Institution Of The Thesis: Middle East Technical University, Turkey

Approval Date: 2020

Student: Candaş Ayan

Supervisor: NECMİ ERDOĞAN

Abstract:

This study analyzes the democracy perceptions of the individuals belonging to the urban middle-classes in Turkey in the period between 1945 and 1960. Such a scrutiny makes it necessary to focus on individuals’ subjective experiences and witnesses to the period. In this context, this study analyzes the reader letters sent to Ahmet Emin Yalman, one of the most eminent intellectual journalists of the period between 1945- 1960. It is hard to believe that the democracy perceptions of the urban middle-class individuals were not fed by the hegemonic struggles and political developments of the period, and the democracy debates brought to the newspaper columns. In this respect, in this study, on the one hand the debates on democracy that took place at the intellectual and political levels of the period were examined, and on the other hand the class characters of Yalman’s readers were analyzed in order to reveal to what extent Yalman’s readers were fed by these discussions and influenced by the hegemonic struggles. Then, the contents of the reader letters were analyzed within the framework of a dual narrative. It was revealed that the democracy perceptions of the urban middle-class individuals were shaped under the influence of two factors during the period: the populist discourse that ‘the manifestation of the national will’, and the liberaldemocratic mechanisms of checks and balances that limiting the executive power. As a result, this study reveals that the democracy perceptions of the urban middle-class individuals were shaped under the influence of the hegemonic struggle between elite factions, and the liberal ideology.