The presence of a strong link between civil society and policymaking is a major tenet of democratic governance. Recent events such as the Gezi Park demonstrations have led many to reconsider the nature of this link in Turkey. Equally importantly, we have started observing that discontent Turkish citizens, and the Turkish youth in particular, have started using online social media platforms as a means for expressing their discontent, discussing alternative policy options, and organizing en masse to express their political views. In contrast, conventional civil society actors and opposition political parties remained conspicuously absent from the center stage during one of the most massive series of civil demonstrations in modern Turkish history. Despite their weight in determining political discourse in Turkey nowadays, we have little systematic analysis that treats online social media platforms as a new breed of civil society actors. Noting online social media’s increasing weight as a medium of political exchange, this talk will focus on the following questions: (1) how do social movements reproduce themselves in the cyber-dimension; (2) how online social media relates to the conventional functions of civil society in the Turkish polity; and, (3) who are the main opinion leaders in Turkish online discussion space.
Emre Hatipoglu is Assistant Professor of Political Science and the coordinator of the Conflict Analysis and Resolution (graduate), European Studies (graduate) and International Studies (undergraduate) programs at Sabancı University, Istanbul. He obtained his BA from Bogazici University, his MA from Sabanci University and his Ph. D. from The Pennsylvania State University. His research interests revolve around the question of how domestic institutions shape the behavior of states in the international arena. Currently, Dr. Hatipoglu teaches theories of war and peace, conflict analysis resolution, foreign policy analysis, and political methodology. He is also a co-principal investigator of the project "I-POST". In this project, his team has mapped 10+ million Turkish twitting computer users, and is currently analyzing networking patterns among these users. His work has appeared in journals such as Foreign Policy Analysis, International Studies Perspectives, Terrorism and Political Violence, Turkish Studies, and Cambridge Review of International Affairs.