September 18, 2019
State-formation process entails producing some kind of an ‘imagined’good or desired citizen profile. This concept of imagined desired citizen has its significant other(s) too who have influenced the constitution or reconstitution of the national identity. The notion of a significant other may be another ethnic or religious group and significant others have an influence on the in-group’s identity.
While on the one hand the nation-state endeavors to construct a desired citizenship regime; on the other hand and simultaneously, it tries to assimilate or dissimilate the identities of the undesired citizens (out-group) that it sees unfit to its desired citizen profile. The nation-states have used several tools to achieve this. Besides coercive or physical methods such as forced migration or population exchange they have also used several instruments like the state schooling and the mass media to manufacture such desired citizen and negatively represent and even vilify its significant others.
It can be said that, the media has been one of the ideological apparatuses(Althusser, 1971) that the nation-states have used. It is known that, Turkish case claims that the political authority sees some particular citizens ‘more equal’ than the others. This research argues that the political authority lays down a faith system, patterns of behavior and standards of aesthetics. The political authority sees the citizens who fit to these standards more moral, religious, sacred, reliable and modern in short ‘desired’. Despite having neither fixed nor static a definition, according to the state discourse, the ‘undesired citizens’ consist of the pious Muslims (now it has changed since the AKP rule) , Alevis, Kurds and the non-Muslims (Greek Orthodox, Jews and Armenians who are recognizedas minorities in the Lausanne Peace Treaty) .
The Turkish case is a remarkable example in analyzing how and to what extent some particular sectors of society are treated by the state as the undesired citizens or in other words as secondary-status citizens, maybe not in the black-letter law but in practice. Based on the conceptualization of Baskın Oran (2007: 40) a ‘desired citizen’ can be described as LAHASÜMÜT,that is a secular-Hanefi-Sunni-Muslim-Turk (laik,Hanefi, Sünni Müslüman, Türk). In other words, a secular Muslim Turk, who follows the Hanefi school of jurisprudence of mainstream Sunni Orthodoxy. The citizens who do not fit to this conceptualization are seen as the undesired citizens.
The Turkish nation-building process entails the process of socially engineeringthe ‘desired citizens’. The media has been one of the instruments through which the state ideology is re(produced). The Republican elites used the press as a tool to manufacture the desired citizenhip profile through imposing the Kemalist worldview (Yılmaz and Burak, 2011). For Karl Deutsch (1966), nations are strongly bounded by their socially communicative structures of interaction. In a similar vein, according to Ernest Gellner (1983) national cultures are fed by the distinctive style of conduct and communication of a given community.
In addition, according to Benedict Anderson, the emergence of national consciousness in the European nation-states was produced by a conjunction of print, capitalism and the ‘fatality of human linguistic diversity’ (Anderson, 1991: 43). Anderson puts a special emphasis on newspapers and novels as important means that provide technical means for‘re-presenting’ the kind of imagined community that is the nation (Anderson, 1991: 25). Following the works of Deutsch (1966), Gellner (1983) and Anderson (1991) who sketch how communication and nation are related I argue that media discourse (print media in this study) plays a crucial role in both (re)producing and challenging the desired citizenship profile in Turkey.Author : Begum Burak