The New Political Culture: Common Characteristics of Political Participation of Youth in Turkey
Ozen, H. Ege
Political Science Istanbul Bilgi University Istanbul, Turkey
The field of political culture is often generalized and universalized in terms of earliest works in the field and is ignored outside certain areas of Western political behavior. However, political culture as a field has potential to deal with many critical issues across comparative analysis of different societies. Political participation of youth is one of these most important issues and it holds the capability to understand new patterns of changing political culture in developing countries. The reconstruction and reinstitutionalization of the authoritarian Turkish state after the military intervention of September 12, 1980 started to melt by the end of the 1980s and continued during the 1990s in harmony with the fall of one authoritarian regime after another in the aftermath of the Cold-War paradigm. But democracy is not something that can be exported like any commodity in the capitalist world system. Rather, it is a common understanding and a social contract to live together by recognizing ethnic, cultural, and religious differences within the society and active participation of citizens is one of the most crucial steps of making democracy. This paper argues that political participation of youth, who are defined as key actors shaping the change in political culture, is a fundamental constituent makes democracy achievable. It is based on a qualitative research conducted between June 2008 and January 2009 through focus groups (6 sessions with 35 participants, who are members of five NGOs and also a labor union, aged between 18 and 26) and it discusses three themes by analyzing the research inferences related with common characteristics of political participation of youth in Turkey: the shared position towards the political autonomy of the military in Turkey, the consensus about social class differences and poverty as one of the most important problems in Turkey and a common understanding of democracy as an absent principle of Turkish politics.