State and classes in the Ottoman Empire: Local notables in historical perspective

Tuluveli G.

JOURNAL OF MEDITERRANEAN STUDIES, vol.15, pp.121-147, 2005 (AHCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 15
  • Publication Date: 2005
  • Journal Indexes: Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.121-147
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


This paper examines the present state of history-writing on the middle classes in Ottoman society, named in the terminology as ayan (notables). Compressed between the state and the society, this social group is the scapegoat of the Ottoman decentralization process sometimes equated with so-called Ottoman decline. Despite the important role this group played in local economic life as intermediaries between the tax-gatherers and tax-payers, 'politics of notables' has become a negative catchphrase to describe eighteenth century Ottoman political life. This study tries to deconstruct the current paradigms of Ottoman class structure by focusing on the economic and social processes which not only transformed Ottoman political and social hierarchy but also gave momentum to the emergence of new actors in the economic and political arena.