The military coup of 1980 in Turkey was followed by more than two decades of neoliberal transition, which included the introduction and rising influence of Islamic capital, as well as the systematic weakening of trade unions through both economic and political processes. In this light, what is the relationship between the strengthening of Islamic capital and political Islam and the position of labour and trade unionism in neoliberal Turkey? Islam attained a complex role as regards its influence on labour movements, with The Association of Independent Industrialists and Businessmen (MÜSIAD, which organizes on the basis of Islamic rhetoric) on the one hand, and the religiously oriented Confederation of Turkish Real Trade Unions (Hak-Is) on the other. This research hypothesizes that the new bourgeoisie with Islamic roots has been an integral part of the neoliberal process that changed the position of labour as an influential social actor by perpetuating neoliberal policies and implementing informal employer-employee relations based on social ties and moral values. It makes use of a combination of quantitative and qualitative sources, including statistics regarding union activity, government legislation, various union and MUSIAD publications, news items, face-to-face interviews, and existing literature. Through an exploration of the rise of Islamic capital under a neoliberal setting from the perspective of labour, this research would help explain neoliberalism’s impact on the social structure of a developing country.
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Thesis advisor: Esensoy, Emre
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