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The Gezi Park Movement: Forming of a New Political Opposition in Turkey?

by: Marija Krstic Drasko
pp: 97
ISBN: 978-88-96951-21-7

In collaboration with:
MIREES Alumni International Association (MAiA)


During spring and summer 2013, Turkey witnessed a series of protests followed by the police violence. When a small, environmental sit-in protest for the protection of Gezi Park in the center of Istanbul was brutally smashed down by the police forces in the end of May 2013, a massive number of people took to the streets in over sixty Turkish cities, which, over the night, turned into a nationwide protest - the biggest one in modern Turkish history.

The paper “The Gezi Park Movement: Forming of a New Political Opposition in Turkey?” tends to explore the formation of the Gezi Park movement during spring/summer 2013 and its internal dynamics (collective actions, tactics, practices, meanings, symbols, language, etc.); the momentum in which such a massive movement was formed and that is to examine the reasons and motives which drove people to take part in this movement and developments that had preceded the movement; the influence of the Gezi Park Movement on both individual actors and civil society organizations; and its impact on the overall democratization process in Turkey. The main argument here is that the collective identity of the Gezi Park Movement (so-called ‘Gezi spirit’) could be identified as a certain form of political opposition understood by Hannah Arendt’s concept of power. This political opposition is nothing concrete or materialized in sense of organization or political party. It is rather fluid - coming from the potential of acting together.

In order to explore the issues aforesaid, the ethnographic fieldwork was carried out in Istanbul during July 2013. The qualitative actor-based methodological approach was chosen since the main focus was on subjective meanings, personal stories, experiences and perspectives of the Gezi Park Movement actors. The primary research method was in-depth, semi-structured interview. Other sources included participant observation, documentary movies, press articles, and informal conversations both with activists and ordinary people who took part in the protests.

As the findings demonstrate, the protests broke out as a consequence of a long time accumulated grievances. The results also show that the Gezi Park Movement influenced to a large extent both individuals who became ‘politicized’, and civil society organizations regarding changing of their tactics, introducing new issues in their agendas, and collaborating among each other. This obviously shows the big impact of the Gezi Park Movement on deepening of democracy in Turkish society.


Table of contents

Introduction: Background and Structure
Theoretical and Conceptual Frames
   Classical Approach to Social Movements
   Post-1960s Theoretical Approaches
      Political-Process Theory
      Resource-Mobilization Approach
      New Social Movement Theories
   The Theoretical Context of the Gezi Park Movement
      Motives and the Choice of the Methodological Approach
      Primary Research Method and Choosing the Right Sample
      Conducting the Interviews
      Research Obstacles
      Transcription of the Interviews
      Secondary Research Methods
The Gezi Park Movementand. The Democratization of Turkish Society
   Grievances and Authority
      First Reaction
      Sources of Grievances
   The Formation and Internal Dynamics of the Gezi Park Movement
      The Role of the Social Media
      The Culture of the Gezi Park Movement
      Changing of Tactics .....
   Impact of the Gezi Park Movement on Turkish (Civil) Society
      The Self-Limiting Radicalism of the Gezi Park Actors
      Politicization of the Actors and the Rise of Civil Society
      Forming of a New Political Opposition?
Author’s Biography


The initiative of:
University of Bologna, Vytautas Magnus at Kaunas, Corvinus of Budapest and St. Petersburg State University, together with University of Ljubljana and University of Zagreb

In collaboration with:
MIREES Alumni International Association (MAiA)
Institute for Central-Eastern and Balkan Europe (IECOB)

Selection coordinated by:
MIREES Faculty Academic Council

Editorial coordination by:
Prof. Francesco Privitera, MIREES Programme Director
Adriano Remiddi, President of the MAiA Executive Board
Giovanni Cadioli, MAiA Editorial Manager
Luciana Moretti, IECOB Editorial Assistant


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