From JDP’s populism to culturalization of politics: a discourse analytical approach

Thesis Type: Doctorate

Institution Of The Thesis: Middle East Technical University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Department of Sociology, Turkey

Approval Date: 2017

Thesis Language: English

Student: Mahir Kalaylıoğlu



In this study, political discourse of the Justice and Development Party and some of its performances in specific political phases – along with the displacements, modifications, etc. that have made possible these performances – are addressed from a discourse analytical approach. In this context, the main aim of the study is, basing on populism theory of Ernesto Laclau, to determine main characteristics of the JDP politics primarily in terms of the hegemonic momentum the party gained in the beginning of 2000s and then to evaluate through which discursive articulations the JDP succeeded to effect and keep up its Islamist-conservative politics in significant turning points and moments of crisis that played a significant part in the post-2010 period such as the Constitutional Referendum of 2010 and Gezi protests. Although not with the same intense, the study also involves an analytical interest as to affective dimension of these articulations. In the study, it is suggested to address the period of 2002- 2010, which is generally considered as liberal Islamist phase of JDP politics, under the term “populism in power”. According to this, populism in power as a variant of populism is an answer of the JDP to the political context – i.e. restrictions and possibilities contained by this context – in which it emerged, and thus, has a key importance to understand the nature of political decisions and practices that allowed the party along the mentioned period to consolidate its power as a hegemonic actor. In the post-2010 period, which can also be considered as a period of quest for institutionalization in terms of the logic of political implementations the government turned towards, populism in power as the product of the marriage of JDP with populism arrived at a certain threshold and the party has tended towards an essentialist political route in a manner that resonates the religious populism of its predecessor, the Welfare Party. While politics for this route refers to a conflict between the identities structured on the basis of religious-cultural differences, a conflict which is expressed in a certain claim of civilization; political commitment, on the other hand, has almost turned into expression of a way of life, which ensures its ontological consistency through historical myths such as great civilization. Actually, the term “culturalization of politics” is used in the study to refer precisely to these dominant political dynamics of the period that make political differences tend to function as pre-given and fixedborders cultural differences, differences concerning way of life.