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Power, Technology and Authoritarianism in Turkey: A Critical Discourse Approach

Fri, August 30, 2:00 to 3:30pm, Hilton, Embassy


This paper analyses the role of technology discourse and policy in sustaining the Justice and Development Party’s power and legitimacy in Turkish politics. It argues that technology discourse and policy helped JDP sustain its power and legitimacy in Turkish politics through a combination of consent and coercion.

Regarding the manufacturing of consent, the paper analyses how the technology discourse has helped the JDP to claim supremacy particularly in construction, nuclear energy and military technologies. The discourse on technological self-sufficiency, particularly in military and energy sectors have become an important component of JDP’s nationalistic discourse and identity. At the same time, the mega construction projects helped JDP to create rent, expand its clientele and build a superior image in the eyes of its constituency. JDP has also taken advantage of social media to set agendas, frame issues, mobilize supporters, and persuade voters.

Regarding coercion, the paper analyses the extent to which technology, particularly the Internet and social media, has become a site for political control and censorship. All major challenges to JDP’s authoritarian rule in recent years somehow benefited from the Internet. The coercive aspect of JDP’s power has manifested itself through new legislation tightening control on the Internet, blocking social media platforms, censoring online content, harassing bloggers and manipulating discussions.

Drawing upon critical discourse analysis, the paper analyses the speeches and statements of prominent JDP actors since the Gezi Park protests in 2013. The textual analysis also includes JDP’s election manifesto, government programme and other relevant documents. In order to understand the enactment of this technology discourse, the paper also analyses new institutions, organizations and policies that have emerged as part of JDP’s technology discourse since 2013.