Spatio-Temporal Dynamics of Sociology in Post-1990 Turkey


SOCIOLOGICAL RESEARCH ONLINE, vol.24, pp.598-616, 2019 (Peer-Reviewed Journal) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 24
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Doi Number: 10.1177/1360780419870810
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index, Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.598-616


This study explores the spatio-temporal conditions of producing sociological knowledge at universities at a time of transformation in post-1990 (1990-2017) Turkey. Through a content analysis of the sociology PhD theses submitted in this period, it investigates the questions of where, when, and how sociological knowledge is institutionalized in Turkey. The study has two main findings. First, spatial distribution of sociology PhD theses highlights the ensuing centre-periphery relationships inside Turkey, a country itself located in the periphery. Endowed with better resources, the centre (mainly Ankara and Istanbul) focuses on macro solutions to the problems faced by Turkey and other countries, whereas the rest of the country produces knowledge about their immediate surroundings, that is, particular regions/cities/towns of Turkey. This difference illustrates the degrees to which sociological research in post-1990 Turkey is territorially limited by (Turkish) national borders. Second, temporally speaking, the sociological interest in domestic issues revolves mainly around 'politics' and 'economy', insofar as they relate to the economic crises, neoliberalism, globalization, and democratization attempts Turkey experienced in the post-1990 period. A closer reading of this spatio-temporality may suggest that Turkish sociology is susceptible to methodological nationalism that downplays the impact of nationalism, conforms to the nation-state and nations, and territorially limits the unit of analysis. Despite the transformations brought about by the period and the spatial differences in knowledge production between the centre and the periphery, sociology in Turkey is bound by the national territorial and ideational boundaries, reproducing the ethnic, political, cultural, and social foundations of Turkish nationalism. This study argues that although Turkish sociology stands on the periphery within the non-Western context, it is nonetheless formalized around its own centre-periphery relationship within the country itself, and that its spatio-temporal institutionalization in the post-1990 period has reproduced an implicit methodological nationalism that relies on Turkish nationalism.