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 4: Business associations as political actors

Ayşe Buğra and Osman Savaşkan


In the development trajectories of the newly emerging big businesses that we discussed in Chapter 3, we do not find business associations playing an important role as mechanisms of intermediation. Instead, particularism, an important feature of government-big business relations in the historical development of the Turkish private sector, continued to influence these relations in the current business environment. However, an analysis of the current environment that relies on the notion of institutional path dependency is hardly adequate, given the changes that have taken place in the mechanisms of government intervention and the forms of particularism. Moreover, even if government support provided to big entrepreneurs circumvents organized interest representation, government-business relations now take place in a context where voluntary business associations have an important presence in the economy and society. This chapter investigates the emergence of these associations and analyzes the role they play in the current business environment. The three business associations we examine in this chapter - M‹S_AD, ASKON and TUSKON - emerged and developed in parallel to the rise of political Islam in Turkey, and religious references significantly figured in the formulation of their organizational discourses and strategies. Notwithstanding their differing views regarding the place of religion in society, they promoted macro-level socioeconomic projects modeled on projects pursued by political parties that emphasized the centrality of Islam in Turkish society and culture. It is in this sense that we to refer to them as associations within the constituency of political Islam.

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