Class and politics
This article discusses class as a potential that could be realized as a political project. It is argued that a basic notion of working class interest, universally defined in terms of resistance to the commodification of labor, could form the basis of a broad coalition beyond the ever-present diversity of working class experience. Since this diversity, in its structural and cultural dimensions, is easily manipulated against the interests of all workers, it becomes important to highlight the historical dynamics of commodification, as well as the possibilities of resistance to it, in a language of class that is articulated with the language of human rights. In the absence of such a language, appeals to the “logic of the market”, “interests of the nation” or the” unifying potential of religion” could be effectively used to promote the current agenda of neoliberal globalization. Some of the theoretical points made in the article are illustrated by examples from contemporary Turkey, where talking about class has a particular political significance in the context of a highly successful project of Islamic neoliberalism.
Have social classes waned?
The phenomenon of social class, which was one of the main themes of political thought from mid 19th century to the last quarter of the 20th century, the primary assumption of modern political economy that took shape at the last quarter of the 18th century, and the founding concept of sociology that began to develop in the 19th century, has disappeared from sight and lost its meaning in liberal, postmarxist and culturalist approaches. These approaches argue that individuation in modern societies is among the reasons which contributed to this change. This leads to an understanding which undermines structural social and economic inequalities in contemporary societies. The empirical studies, however, reveal that the inequalities among classes in terms of wealth, income, welfare and opportunities do not wane, except in quite few cases, but rise. What lies behind this huge gap between the weak perception of social class and the actual class differences is the hegemony of the liberal ideology.
Psychoanalysis and Marxism: The impossibility of class relation and communism as an axiom
CEREN ÖZSELÇUK - YAHYA M. MADRA
Current influential attempts to bring together psychoanalysis and Marxism turn on the question of how to critique and move beyond capitalism without reverting to a utopian notion of communism. Taking this question seriously, the article explores the implications of psychoanalytic categories such as the real, fantasy, jouissance, and the formulae of sexuation, for Marxian economics and politics. Rethinking Marxian class analysis in conjunction with Lacanian psychoanalysis, the article aims to formulate a post-phantasmatic relation to the economy of surplus, and from there, to offer a new ethico-political stance around exploitation and communism.
Covering and recovering the class at the Tuzla Shipbuilding Region / Turkey
NEVRA AKDEMİR - ASLI ODMAN
This article tries to recover analytically the class relationships and the way they are covered discursively at the center of the Turkish Shipbuilding Industry in Tuzla / Istanbul. Since 2007 Tuzla has become the place of serial fatal occupational accidents that accompany the sudden explosion in the production numbers, which reminded a larger audience that the interest of shipyard employers and shipyard workers cannot be dealt with under the umbrella of an alleged “national development”. The article tries to draw meticulously the woven class relationships and conflicts into the concrete production space of the shipbuilding industry by way of a relational and spatial class analysis. Therein the class-bias of the current liberal conservative AKP regime, the formation conditions of the shipbuilding capital, the dominant flexible labor regime with subcontractors, the workers’ organizations in Tuzla are analyzed in detail. The re-production of the cultural identities of the workers is dealt with in connection with migration and the stratification at the workplace, fragmented into thousand pieces. Lastly, the issue of the increasing occupational accidents and professional illnesses is put into a more general framework of the globally flexibilized and precarious labor regime imposed on to large segments of population which establishes at the same time a common ground for the understanding of systemic dynamics and struggles.
Silent years in the making of the Turkish working class
In this study, the importance of the 1950’s in the making of the Turkish working class is evaluated; a period which is poorly treated in the working class historiography of Turkey. The main intention is to investigate the making of the Turkish working class with the help of various theoretical approaches and notions, which broaden the scope of class studies. A new theoretical model is put into practice to achieve that goal. The strategies of three main political-historical actors, which affected the making of the working class in Turkey, are taken into consideration in this new model. The making of the working class is accepted as continuous and determined by class struggles. Thus, these strategies are portrayed as struggling forces in the making of the working class in Turkey. The populist strategy of the party in power, the Democrat Party, is considered important. In particular, the effect of spatial populist policies on the class-making is deliberated. The discussions around the theoretical framework and model are based on historical materials and substantial examples as far as possible. Beyond some overgeneralizations on the subject, another intention of this study will be to contribute to the working class history of Turkey by using some historical materials. In this study, the savings of labor struggle during the 1950’s, the experiences of working class that were passed on to the next generation and some continuations will be underlined. Besides, the similarities with the 1980’s and today in the making of the working class will be stressed. As similar with today, I will try to maintain that the class dynamics and experiences which were unnoticeable at the first instance can be seen as the preconditions of the following periods. As a result, the main idea of this study is to assert that the reinvestigation of the “silent” years in the making of the working class can bring in more opportunities than expected to labor history studies.
Underclass in Turkey: From poverty in turns to perpetual poverty
Based on an ethnographic fieldwork realised at the Tarlabaşı neighborhood in the Beyoğlu district of Istanbul, this paper tackles the issue of urban poverty in Turkey through the concept of “underclass”. The first part is devoted to the discussion of this controversial concept, oscillating between structural and cultural connotations. Our findings of Tarlabaşı households –mainly conflict-induced migrant Kurds– related to diverse aspects of economic, social, political, spatial and discursive exclusions point to the transformation of urban poverty model in Turkey: from an integrating poverty (poverty in turns), to an exclusionary poverty (perpetual poverty). In the example of Tarlabaşı neighborhood, it is possible to trace the signs of such transformation, and this paper argues that, this specific case of an inner-city neighborhood can be analyzed through the concept of underclass which has the value of pointing to a combined situation of socio-economic exclusion and spatial relegation.
Re-thinking the formation of working class: Tourism industry in Turkey
ASLIHAN AYKAÇ YANARDAĞ
The purpose of this study is to evaluate the experience of workers in the tourism industry within the theoretical framework of working class formation. The process of working class formation is generally studied within the context of industrialization, specifically following the Industrial Revolution. Conceptually, the process is defined in terms of deruralization, proletarianization, making of a class culture as the social foundations of proletarianization and finally, the emergence of class struggle as class consciousness is put into action. Although the early industrialization period is important for the establishment of the conceptual foundations of this area of study, the contemporary experiences in new work areas requires a rethinking of the theoretical framework and the conceptual instruments used within this framework. Tourism industry, with its extensive growth in the postwar period, is an illustrative example of contemporary patterns of working class formation. The empirical evidence for the research comes from the fieldwork conducted in Fethiye, Belek and Kemer, each of which represents a different pattern of working class formation. As we observe complementary relationship between the preexisting agriculture and tourism industry in Fethiye, there’s a clear cut transition from agriculture to tourism in Belek. While the former represents a much more transitory and incomplete working class formation, the latter is the most explicit of the three cases in terms of its working class. Kemer, on the other hand, represents a totally different pattern as locals resist the process of proletarianization, which in fact turns out to be an opportunity for migrant workers.
Social struggles of migrants and the class analysis - en evaluation
This contribution discusses the conceptual tensions between class analyses and migration arising from historical and contemporary social struggles. The paper investigates into the history of social struggles of migrants in Germany, focusing on the autonomous struggles of the 1960’s and the 1970’s. By analysing these struggles of migration the idea is to show how and to what extent migration movements establish a social field of conflict, evoke social transformation and challenge previous notions of class struggle. In reference to three main conceptual topics developed within the framework of worker’s strikes (reserve army, division of the working class, and migrants and women as the vanguard of class struggle) the article develops an understanding of some crucial flaws within class analysis that are persistent until today but that have for a long time extended their validity period. How can social struggles be conceptualised that are characterised by racist oppression – in the context and dynamic of global migration movements until today?
On a ‘presumption’ of Prof. Şerif Mardin
HASAN ÜNAL NALBANTOĞLU
The article takes issue with an ‘opinion’, rather a ‘presumption,’ expressly stated by Prof. Mardin in an oft-quoted article (‘Aydınlar’ Konusunda Ülgener ve Bir İzah Denemesi,” Toplum ve Bilim, No. 24 (Kış 1984): 9-16). The discussion of the problem raised by Prof. Mardin also provides an opportunity to raise questions concerning the relevance of a ‘Center’ - ‘Periphery’ model where both media domination and consolation in religion in a not-too-civil capitalist society make quite strange bedfellows.