Depoliticizing the politicized?: the effects of the EU’s civil society funding in the context of hegemonic struggles in Turkey

Research output: Book/ReportBook

Abstract

In my dissertation I analyze the effects of the European Union’s (EU) funding of human rights organizations in Turkey between 2002 and 2013. I argue that the EU’s funding is based on liberal as well neo-liberal governmentality which may politicize and/or depoliticize civil society organizations (CSOs) funded depending on how they are situated in domestic discursive struggles and how they incorporate or resist the EU’s rationalities. I especially take issue with the literature on governmentality and civil society which suggests that (neo-)liberal governmentality depoliticizes the issues of CSOs, meaning removing them from the sphere of political contestation or not putting them on the agenda in the first place (e.g. Jaeger 2007; Walters and Haahr 2005; Kurki 2011). I suggest that the debate will benefit from a more differentiated understanding of governmentality and from integrating the contexts civil society acts in. Firstly, the EU’s funding of civil society is not only characterized by neo-liberal rationalities which constitute individuals and civil society as economic subjects and their rights a matter of economic calculation, but it is also based on liberal rationalities which understand the individual and civil society as a bearer of rights that have to be protected by the state. I discuss that both types of governmentality and their tensions have shaped EU integration from its beginning. Secondly, the fact that CSOs partly act in strongly politicized contexts changes the effects of the EU’s governmentality. Indeed, I find that the CSOs funded increasingly used technologies of visibility and performance and aimed to empower people in their projects, but also politicized their issues by monitoring and lobbying. Moreover, the EU did not make CSOs in Turkey to service providers or co-opted partners of government, partly because the EU did not aim at doing this and partly because the domestic context made it unlikely. Moreover, the effects vary in the different policy fields. For instance, LGBT and Kurdish rights organizations increased their legitimacy through relying on instruments of visibility of performance. Overall, migration CSOs worked in the most depoliticized manner while women’s, LGBT and Kurdish rights group monitored human rights and lobbied for their rights. Future research should include a consideration of the ambiguities of the EU’s governmentality as well as of the importance of domestic struggles when assessing the (de)politicizing effects of (neo-)liberal governmentality.
LanguageEnglish
Place of PublicationTübingen
PublisherUniversität Tübingen
Number of pages238
StatePublished - 2015

Fingerprint

civil society
Turkey
governmentality
funding
rationality
human rights
earning a doctorate
service provider
performance
economics
legitimacy
migration
monitoring

Keywords

  • Turkey
  • European Union
  • civil society
  • governmentality
  • politicization
  • European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights

Cite this

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abstract = "In my dissertation I analyze the effects of the European Union’s (EU) funding of human rights organizations in Turkey between 2002 and 2013. I argue that the EU’s funding is based on liberal as well neo-liberal governmentality which may politicize and/or depoliticize civil society organizations (CSOs) funded depending on how they are situated in domestic discursive struggles and how they incorporate or resist the EU’s rationalities. I especially take issue with the literature on governmentality and civil society which suggests that (neo-)liberal governmentality depoliticizes the issues of CSOs, meaning removing them from the sphere of political contestation or not putting them on the agenda in the first place (e.g. Jaeger 2007; Walters and Haahr 2005; Kurki 2011). I suggest that the debate will benefit from a more differentiated understanding of governmentality and from integrating the contexts civil society acts in. Firstly, the EU’s funding of civil society is not only characterized by neo-liberal rationalities which constitute individuals and civil society as economic subjects and their rights a matter of economic calculation, but it is also based on liberal rationalities which understand the individual and civil society as a bearer of rights that have to be protected by the state. I discuss that both types of governmentality and their tensions have shaped EU integration from its beginning. Secondly, the fact that CSOs partly act in strongly politicized contexts changes the effects of the EU’s governmentality. Indeed, I find that the CSOs funded increasingly used technologies of visibility and performance and aimed to empower people in their projects, but also politicized their issues by monitoring and lobbying. Moreover, the EU did not make CSOs in Turkey to service providers or co-opted partners of government, partly because the EU did not aim at doing this and partly because the domestic context made it unlikely. Moreover, the effects vary in the different policy fields. For instance, LGBT and Kurdish rights organizations increased their legitimacy through relying on instruments of visibility of performance. Overall, migration CSOs worked in the most depoliticized manner while women’s, LGBT and Kurdish rights group monitored human rights and lobbied for their rights. Future research should include a consideration of the ambiguities of the EU’s governmentality as well as of the importance of domestic struggles when assessing the (de)politicizing effects of (neo-)liberal governmentality.",
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