Murat Metinsoy / Everyday Politics of Ordinary People: Public Opinion, Dissent and Resistance in Early Republican Turkey, 1925-1939

An Abstract of the Dissertation of Murat Metinsoy, for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy from the Atatürk Institute for Modern Turkish History at Bogaziçi University to be taken 2010

Title: Everyday Politics of Ordinary People: Public Opinion, Dissent and Resistance in Early Republican Turkey, 1925-1939

This study examines the everyday and mostly informal forms of peasant and working class politics during the first two decades of the Turkish Republic by scrutinizing the daily protests and resistance of these groups to the social and economic policies of the single-party state and adverse economic conditions. Furthermore, this study explores the influence of the everyday politics of these groups on the political decision-making process of the state. The Turkish single-party period was by all means an extraordinary era marked by profound changes. Historical scholarship has conventionally focused on high and formal politics, and state policies. Due to the barriers before the formal and organizational participation of peasants and workers in legal politics, both these groups have been regarded to be fully excluded from the policy-making. Accordingly, the single-party state has generally been assumed to be based on solely coercive and rigid polity isolated from society. Scholars have barely touched upon the popular discontent and the daily ways in which ordinary people reacted against the state policies, power holders, and adverse economic conditions, and consequently influenced the state decisions. This dissertation takes on this challenging task and depicts an alternative picture in which the ordinary people participated in politics in everyday life, by uncovering the ordinary people’s dissenting opinions, demanding voices, everyday struggles, diverse patterns of protest and resistance strategies. On the basis of new archival sources giving information about daily contacts between the state and society and of a re-reading “against-the-grain” of conventional sources and theoretically drawing on a broader conception of politics as an everyday struggle over the allocation of scarce economic sources, emphasizing non-institutional and mostly informal patterns of the peasant and working class politics, this study delves into the popular dynamics of the political life during the early Republican era. Addressing wider debates about the relations between the state, society and class by focusing on the everyday and mostly informal contestation and negotiation process between the lower classes and state that compelled the state to modify its decisions, this dissertation suggests to see the relations between the state and ordinary people not as dichotomous, but as an interactive process. In this respect, the findings of this work propose a redefinition of the single-party state as “flexible authoritarian,” exposed and responsive to social inputs.

Bogaziçi Üniversitesi Atatürk Ilkeleri ve Inkilap Tarihi Enstitüsü’nde Doktora derecesi için Murat Metinsoy tarafindan Agustos 2012'de teslim edilen tezin özeti

Baslik: Everyday Politics of Ordinary People: Public Opinion, Dissent and Resistance in Early Republican Turkey, 1925-1939

Bu çalisma Türkiye’de tek-parti döneminde köylülügün ve isçi sinifinin devletin ekonomi politikalari ve olumsuz ekonomik kosullar karsisindaki gündelik ve çogunlukla enformel protesto, direnis ve hak arama mücadelelerini incelemektedir; buradan hareketle, kitlelerin gündelik yasamdaki söz konusu eylemlerinin siyasal karar alma sürecini nasil etkiledigine isik tutmaktadir. Tek parti yillari, kuskusuz dramatik toplumsal degisimlerin yasandigi olaganüstü bir dönem oldu. Bugüne kadar dönemi inceleyen tarihsel literatür büyük ölçüde yüksek siyasete odaklandi. Kitlelerin formel olarak ve yasal çerçevede siyasete katilmalarinin önündeki engeller dolayisiyla, köylülülük ve isçi sinifi genellikle siyasi karar alma sürecinden tamamiyla dislanmis, siyaseten etkisiz ve pasif kitleler olarak resmedildi. Kitlelerin devlet politikalarini dolayli olarak etkileyen gündelik protesto ve direnis mekanizmalari yeterince incelenmedi. Buna paralel olarak, tek-parti devletinin toplumsal taleplerden yalitilmis, sadece baski ve zora dayali bir yönetim sekline sahip oldugu kabul edilegeldi. Bu tez, siradan insanlarin kirsal ve kentsel alanlarda devlet politikalari ve ekonomik kosullar karsisinda çesitli formlardaki protesto, direnis ve mücadele stratejilerinin analizinden hareketle, kitlelerin siyasal karar alma sürecine alttan alta katildigi alternatif bir tek-parti tarihi yorumu getirmektedir. Alt siniflarin seslerini, deneyimlerini, devletle ve üst siniflarla iliskilerini yansitan yeni arsiv kaynaklarindan yararlanilarak ve teorik olarak siyaseti ve toplumsal direnisi daha genis bir biçimde, gündelik yasamdaki sinifsal ve ekonomik mücadeleler çerçevesinde yorumlayan sosyal teorilerden hareketle, bu tez köylü ve isçi sinifi siyasetinin kurumsal olmayan, gündelik ve çogunlukla enformel biçimlerini ve devletin siyasi karar alma sürecine dolayli yollardan müdahil olma sürecini ortaya çikarmaktadir. Erken cumhuriyet dönemine dair devlet, toplum ve sinif iliskileri konusundaki tartismalara referansla, alt siniflar, devlet ve üst siniflar arasinda gündelik yasamda tezahür eden ve çogunlukla devleti ve üst siniflari kararlarini yumusatmaya zorlayan gayri-resmi ve dolayli politik mücadele ve müzakere biçimlerine odaklanarak, bu tez tek-parti devleti ve toplum arasindaki iliskinin dikotomik olmaktan ziyade, karsilikli bir etkilesime dayandigini savunmaktadir. Bu bakimdan, çalismanin bulgulari, tek-parti devletinin toplumsal talepler ve baskilar dogrultusunda politikalarinda degisikliler yapabilen, “esnek bir otoriter” devlet olarak yeniden tanimlanmasini önermektedir.