Accueil > Politics and Society of a Regional Power: the case of Turkey

CSPO 2620A - Politics & Society of a Regional Power: The Case of Turkey

Type d'enseignement : Seminar

Semester : Spring 2017-2018

Number of hours : 24

Language of tuition : English



Course Description

Over the past two decades, Turkey has experienced far-reaching transformations in its foreign policy orientation, societal dynamics, economic model of development, and political environment. These transformations coincided with the rise to power of a new party, Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi (Justice and Development Party- AKP), which has imposed itself as a hegemonic force in Turkish politics since 2002. Breaking with the tradition of secularism and Westernization initiated by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in the 20th century, the AKP explored new paths of development and modernization of Turkey. Using the framework of accession talks with the European Union, the party embarked on a series of major reforms which revolutionized Turkey's domestic and foreign policy: weakening of the role of the military, empowerment of a new bourgeoisie who is socially conservative and economically neoliberal, promotion of “moderate Islamism”, pro-active engagement with Middle East and Arab world, best embodied by the “zero-problems foreign policy”. At the height of its popularity in 2011, Western and Arab observers saw in Turkey's AKP a potential “model” for the recently emancipated Middle East following the Arab Spring, combining democracy, economic liberalism, and sensitivity to the religious feelings and local values of citizens. Yet, in 2013, the outbreak of the Gezi Park revolt questioned the regime's legitimacy and highlighted the AKP's drift toward an exclusivist style of governance and authoritarian practices. In parallel, the Syrian quagmire and the renewal of armed conflict between the PKK and the Turkish military, tested the AKP's real capacities and resources in a highly unstable regional environment. While the latest electoral victory of the AKP in the November elections proves the resilience of the party and its strong embedment within Turkish society, it nevertheless risks creating high internal polarization in the country, eventually leading to the decline of the AKP. Built around lectures and student presentations, this course explores the underlying social, political and economic dynamics at work in Turkey, and offers to relocate current events in the country within a broader historical and geopolitical perspective.


JABBOUR, Jana (Project Officer, UNESCO)

Course validation

- Exposé oral – 40% ; - Mémoire final – 50% ; - Participation – 10%.

Required reading

Altunisik, Meliha Benli, The Turkish Model and Democratization in the Middle East, Arab Studies Quarterly, Vol. 27, No. 1-2, 2005, p. 45-63.

Additional required reading

  • The Possibilities and Limits of Turkey's Soft Power in the Middle East, Insight Turkey, Vol. 10, No. 2, 2008, p. 41-54
  • Barysch, Katinka, Steven Everts, Heather Grabbe. Why Europe Should Embrace Turkey, Center for European Reform, 2012 (available online)