Educational Governance in Turkey: The Role of Islamic Social Movements in the New Public Management Age

UoM administered thesis: Unknown

  • Authors:
  • Ceray Ceylan


AbstractFramed within theoretical discussions on both New Public Management (NPM) theory and New Social Movement (NSM) theory, this thesis explores increasing religiosity in education delivery in secular Turkey. Particularly, it investigates the ways in which two Islamic religious groups, the Gulen Movement (GM) and the Iskenderpasa Cemaati (IC), engage with education as a result of neoliberalization in both the public sphere and public administration. Islam, and especially the Islamic Social Movements (ISMs), play an important role in politics and in the socio-economic spheres; therefore, it is necessary to consider their growing role in the delivery of public services such as education not only in Muslim countries, but also in secular societies. Since education is defined as a public service which has a significant role in the creation of social capital (Putnam, 1993), these movements increased their interest in education systems in order to make their own voice heard during the process of education delivery, or in other words, the creation of social capital. This research combines three different research methods: 1) documentary analysis of official papers from the public administration reforms, government archives, the GM and IC's own reports and web pages, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and World Bank reports on the Turkish education system; 2) in-depth interviews conducted with parents, teachers and alumni of GM an IC schools; 3) focus group analysis conducted with graduates from the IC and the GM schools. The data collected from the documents and field research suggest that in Turkey, NPM, which was applied to privatized public services and the deregulated public sphere, has created opportunity spaces for Muslims and ISMs to move upward in the social stratification ladder. The result is the emergence of an ISM controlled education service. The GM and the IC are the best examples of this process.The researcher used the GM and the IC as examples of a collective case study. Although both the GM and the IC have emerged in a similar socio-political and economic environment, in which there is an increasing trend of Islamisation in the social structure and neoliberalization in the economy and politics, these movements responded differently to the same changes. The GM has managed to integrate into the new conditions and produced a similar discourse to NPM. Therefore, rather than establishing an Islamic order, the GM focused on political, social and economic wealth by opening education institutions. However, by demonstrating a traditional form of Islam, the IC shows the other face of religious groups in Turkey. For this reason, the researcher refers to the GM as a 'movement' and the IC as a 'cemaat'. Additionally, by being visible in the public sphere and producing a neoliberal discourse, which is parallel with NPM doctrines, the GM managed to develop educational governance that increases secular and pious families' voices in the education system. This research provides an analysis of a new approach in public administration related to education, one that distances itself from the traditional, prescriptive structures, and instead engages in flexible and participative relationships. Finally, the findings of this research will provide a greater understanding of states where there are tensions between modernisation and democratisation, and demands for 'traditional values'.


Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
    Award date1 Aug 2014