İlker Cörüt / Social Rationality of Lower-Class Criminal Practices in the Late Nineteenth Century Istanbul

An abstract of the Thesis of Ilker Cörüt for the degree of Master of Arts from the Ataturk Institute for Modern Turkish History to be taken September 2005

Social Rationality of Lower-Class Criminal Practices in the Late Nineteenth Century Istanbul

The late nineteenth century witnessed the emergence of a new mentality about work, society and crime among the Ottoman elites. As work became the central principle on which society was based, the unemployed and poor began to be perceived as serious threats to the social order and all socially unapproved behaviours and values were attributed to this group. They were located outside the bounds of respectable society and legal measures also contributed to the construction of a new criminal class image. This thesis focuses on both property and violent crimes committed by lower-class individuals in the late nineteenth century Istanbul to analyze the social rationality of these crimes. These cases show that property crimes largely were not committed by members of a professional criminal class who were experts in their branch and that violent crimes were not the senseless, meaningless and barbaric acts of essentially aggressive and degenerate social groups. Rather, most of the criminal practices were an integral feature of lower class life and it was impossible to find a criminal class socially and morally separated from the honest laboring class of Istanbul.

Atatürk Ilkeleri ve Inkilap Tarihi Enstitüsü’nde Yüksek Lisans derecesi için Ilker Cörüt tarafindan Eylül 2005’de teslim edilen tezin kisa özeti

Geç 19. yy Istanbul’da Alt-Sinif Kriminal Pratiklerinin Sosyal Rasyonalitesi

Geç 19. yy, elitler arasinda is, toplum ve suça dair yeni bir zihniyetin dogusuna taniklik etti. Is toplumun dayandigi temel ilke olmaya basladikça, issiz ve yoksullar da sosyal düzene karsi ciddi birer tehdit olarak algilanmaya basladilar. Toplumca onaylanmayan bütün davranis ve degerler onlara atfedildi ve saygin toplumun sinirlari ötesinde konumlandirildilar.Yasal önlemler de bu yeni kriminal sinif imajinin olusmasina katkida bulundu. Bu tez, geç 19.yy’da Istanbul’un alt-sinif üyelerince islenen mülkiyet ve siddet suçlarini, bu suçlarin sosyal rasyonalitesini çözümlemek amaci dogrultusunda ele almaktadir. Bu suçlar göstermektedir ki ne mülkiyet suçlari kendi alanlarinda uzmanlasmis profesyonel bir kriminal sinif tarafindan islenmektedir ne de siddet suçlari özsel olarak saldirgan ve dejenere bir sosyal grubun saçma, anlamsiz ve barbar hareketleridir. Çogu kriminal pratik alt sinif yasaminin entegre bir parçasiydi ve Istanbul’un dürüst emekçi sinifindan sosyal ve ahlaki olarak ayrilmis bir kriminal sinif bulmak imkansizdi.