|The Revival of Religious Life and Insufficient Modernity|
|Turkish society has been struggling with many contradictions posed by modernity since the second half of the 19th century. The idea of modernity have often been considered as Westernization and, thus, the developmental process of Western countries has been followed and imitated in many areas of social life.
Religion and related problems to it are shaping the present agenda of Turkish intelligentsia, policy-makers, politicians, and public opinion in general. For instance, demands by some of the Turkish women for dressing according to their faith have divided Turkish people into two divergent groups: the first takes the issue as a matter of human rights and for the second such demands threat individual freedom of the secular part of the society and also undermines the secular structure of the state. To conciliate these two distinct approaches and to better understand the modernisation process and its consequences for traditional life it seems that a new theoretical framework is needed. Question to be predominantly asked in this context is that under which circumstances Turkish society, not as whole though, has remained religious despite the fact that many crucial and compelling efforts towards modernisation have been launched and maintained by the revolutionary governments for decades? In other words, what has been wrong with modernity in Turkish case?
Giddens and his proponents claimed that western countries were in a period of late modernity rather than being in a postmodern era. In a similar way Habermas asserted that in our time modernity, which was basically a project, was an uncompleted process and thus should be completed. In Turkish case these both approaches seem to be explanatory but need some more additional clarifications.
Turkey has tried to modernise effectively all its institutions through 20th century. The revival of religious life has been obvious especially after the collapse of Soviet bloc at the beginning of 1990ís. Governments embracing modernity project in both Ottoman and Republican periods have continuously and implicitly or explicitly promised Turkish people to improve the social, economic and political status of ordinary people who were in fact very patient and hopeful for the future of the country. By the 1990ís what has been experienced and realised by the lower strata of the society was a total disappointment.
It became apparent that ruling class failed to keep its promises to modernise the country and provide people to get benefits from modernising process. This failure turned peopleís hope to their past and got them holding on their traditional and religious values. In short, being disappointed from modernisation Turkish people turned their faces to the Islamic life style.
Hence, it would not be wrong to assert that prevailing discussion on religion has its roots in the shortcomings of modernisation process rather than in spontaneous revival of conservative attitudes of ordinary people. The main hypothesis of this paper is that people tend to be more religious at present condition not for their strong ties with the tradition or their past but the insufficiency of the modernisation efforts.
To see whether these assertions fit social reality or not we are conducting a research on modernity and religion in Turkey. It will be possible for us to present preliminary findings in this paper.
"This paper is prepared on the base of a research funded by Turkish State Research Institute (TUBITAK)"|