Notions and Expectations of Democracy Among the Participants of the Occupygezi Movement in Turkey

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 3:54 PM
Room: 501
Oral Presentation
Ceyda KULOGLU KARSLI , Sociology, Assistant Professor, Ankara, Turkey
Ayse Emel AKALIN , Hacettepe University, Ankara, Turkey
Pelin AYTEMIZ , Communication Faculty, Baskent University, Ankara, Turkey
The aim of this paper is to explore the notions of democracy and the expectations around democratization of Turkey expressed by the protestors of OccupyGezi movement started in Turkey in May 2013.  The protests, which began on 28 May over the plans to demolish one of Istanbul’s rare central parks, developed to nationwide rallies against the government. Although the protests have been acknowledged to be a civil unrest participated by people from different political backgrounds, the demographic features of the protestors and their demands remained under-researched and this caused speculations from both the government and the opposition sides about the reasons and impacts of the protests.

A group of voluntary independent researchers have conducted a survey with 1060 protestors, during the actual demonstrations on the streets in Ankara. Data were collected in three days (8th, 9th, 10th June) in two different centers of the protests in Ankara. Participants were people attending the protests at the time of the interviews, in varying forms and degrees (example: just standing to actually fighting with the police). Participatory observation and results of other surveys conducted in Istanbul were also used as secondary data. The questionnaire consisted of questions concerning the demands, political backgrounds, reasons and types of participation to demonstrations and expectations of the protestors, along with their demographic characteristics.  

This paper is based on the analysis of the participants’ notions, expectations and demands around democratization in Turkey. Results suggested that the demands of democratization have varied according to a series of factors, including the political background of the participant, gender, the place of demonstration attended and the different understandings about the government’s policies restricting individual freedoms. The results have also documented the intense police violence experienced by the participants, which is expressed as one of the major reasons for the growing unrest.