Lead


Lay summary
Commercial television is by far the most present and most used medium in everyday life in Turkey today. This research examines how the production of televised discourses on 'Islam' and 'secularism' contributes to a civic culture that questions but also produces and re-produces the state.Since 1990, the Turkish media, and especially television, have undergone a profound process of commercialisation. Early expectations were that this process would lead to more democracy and a weakening of an authoritarian state dominated by the military. The parallel strengthening of the Islamic movement, however, has complicated such straight anticipations. What has become increasingly evident is not only that secularism, in its Turkish variant of Kemalism, has always incorporated certain definitions of Islam. The Islamic movement has also occupied and enabled many motions of a civic but also - especially since the incumbency of the pro-Islamic Justice and Development Party AKP - of a legal democratisation. The blossoming of a complex Islamic television landscape, and the reduction of clear-cut censorship, are salient indicators of this process. This increased visibility of Islam, however, has aggravated apprehensions and mistrust regarding the 'real' options of democracy in Turkey. By understanding television as an integral part of contemporary forms of a civic culture, the research explores, on the one hand, how and in how far commercialisation compromises and changes 'real' ambitions of religious as well as of ideological representation and public presence. On the other hand, it looks at how and in how far it is actually the production of discourses and narratives of condescension, mistrust, suspicion and of anti-Kemalism and paternalism, respectively, that complicate democratisation and that re-produce existing state structures. The situation, media representation and media practises of the Kurdish minority serve as a particular indicator.The project relies on extensive qualitative fieldwork from the years 2001/2002 and 2009, which covers the beginning of the first and the peak of the second AKP incumbency. Fieldwork methods employed were programme/image recordings, interviews predominantly with producers in 12 different TV channels but also with viewer groups and social networks, and the collection of documents (legal and public). In the evaluation and analysis, a combination of image-, structural and discourse analysis wants to contribute to a more nuanced and critical understanding of the ways in which manifestations of 'Islam' and 'secularism' have developed in the process and are historically contingent and deeply inter-connected.