New Capitalism in Turkey
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New Capitalism in Turkey

The Relationship between Politics, Religion and Business

Ayşe Buğra and Osman Savaşkan

New Capitalism in Turkey explores the changing relationship between politics, religion and business through an analysis of the contemporary Turkish business environment.
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Chapter 1: Economic development and cultural modernization in republican Turkey: a brief overview

Ayşe Buğra and Osman Savaşkan


The post-1980 transformation of Turkish society began with an intense critical reappraisal of the country's republican past. The ideological environment was shaped by increasingly vocal criticism of historical patterns in state-society relations and arguments that insisted on the need to reinstitute the economy and redefine the place of religion in public life. In this new environment, two major flaws were identified in the republican policy orientation. At one level, heavy state intervention in the economy was presented as a major problem, one inimical to economic efficiency and a healthy development process. At the second level, secularist modernization was discussed as a process led by authoritarian intervention in socio-cultural relations proper to a Muslim society. Since this particular diagnosis of the problems of the past significantly informs the character of the transformations accompanying Turkey's integration into the global economy, it is useful to present a historical overview of the economic and cultural developments of the republican period that form the background to the new turn in politics and its impact on business life. This chapter outlines the historical context by tracing the manner in which the economy has been restructured, and how perceptions of the proper place of religion in society have been forged by politics. We first discuss the processes of politically supported capital accumulation and private-sector development by analyzing the economic development strategies pursued in different periods of republican history.

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