Excerpt from Didem Buhari-Gulmez (2011) “Beyond Sender-Receiver Models: Turkey’s Europeanization within World Society“ Paper presented at the EUSA Biennial Conference, Boston, US, March 3-5
[First Draft: Please Do not Cite without Author’s Permission]
“In the context of Turkey-EU relations, Europeanization studies have been very popular so far. For instance, Kirişci (2006) claims that due to the Europeanization process, Turkey is experiencing a cognitive shift from a “Hobbesian” understanding of the world towards a more peaceful, cooperative and cosmopolitan vision à la Kant. In this sense, the “EU effect” is celebrated for its cognitive/cultural effects on Turkish society. In addition, by determining Turkey’s Europeanization process as benign in normative sense, this account denounces those who resist the EU-led reforms in Turkey as preventing a possible “perpetual peace” (ibid.). However, there are two major limitations of Europeanization-centric model.
First, the analytical separation of the “EU effect” as an independent variable, from the “global effect” is difficult, if not impossible. For instance, Featherstone and Papadimitriou (2008) remark that national elite tends to instrumentalize the EU reform process in order to reinforce wider policy programmes such as modernization, liberalization and privatization. In Turkey too, national elite tried to pass “EU-led reforms” that were not part of the EU conditionality and later, denounced by the EU itself. For instance, the criminalization of adultery was presented by the pro-islamist Turkish government as part of the reforms towards Turkey’s EU membership but the EU rejected such a claim and asked for its withdrawal from the reform agenda (Gülmez 2008). Moreover, the boundaries between the EU and its global environment are increasingly contested because it is increasingly “difficult to say who is European and who is not” (Meyer 2001). For example, Turkey, an EU candidate having official links to the European integration since as early as 1963, is criticized for not being European whereas the Europeanness of some non-EU states such as Switzerland or Norway is usually taken for granted.
Finally, it is remarkable that the EU rules, values and norms overlap with those of the UN (Manners 2008). Therefore, the EU institutions derive scripts, norms, and policies from a wider cultural structure. For example, the expansion of “post-national membership” (Soysal 1994) in Europe could be seen as a function of global culture, rather than an EU initiative (Rumford 2007). Given these remarks, the assumed unidirectional transformative process from the EU towards the domestic sphere –frequently used by Europeanization scholars-becomes flawed since there is an actual possibility of a spurious relationship between Europeanization and globalization. Hence, one should take into consideration the global factors in Turkey-EU relations whereby the EU-led reforms have also been propagated by both domestic actors (even before the establishment of the EU with the Maastricht Treaty) and external non-EU actors such as IMF and World Bank. It is thus, crucial to highlight that the EU is not the only actor but just one actor among others in Turkey’s reform process. Therefore, the EU membership process is not a “magical touch” leading to immediate cognitive shifts at the national arena.
The second limitation of Europeanization scholarship rests on its institutionalization as a normative policy agenda, well beyond purely academic concerns. Thus, domestic resistance to Europeanization is often denounced as narrow-mindedness and backward nationalism. Following Kirişci’s account might mislead one to think that all Turkish actors that resist the EU processes are pro-status quo, if not egoistically “Hobbesian”. However, neither all resistants are pro-status quo nor all reformists are progressivists (Boyle 2002).
To remedy such limitations of the extant Europeanization studies, it is suggested to follow Stanford School which mainly advances two structural variables for accounting domestic change: global cultural structuration (or world society/polity institutionalization) and the structural location of the actors vis-à-vis the global culture. Global cultural structuration is significant because actors, including nation-states and individuals, define themselves as well as their means and ends through available global cultural scripts. For instance, McNeely (1995) shows that nation-states evaluate themselves through exogenous statistical concepts such as those on national development. Therefore, similar policies and institutions are adopted by different countries of the world, which do not exhibit common characteristics in terms of geography, economy, culture, polity and so on. It is even notable that in many cases, national policy and law tend to reflect global culture rather than the local culture and practice.
In this context, rather than the strength of the EU pressures on Turkey, global cultural structuration is advanced as determining the varying attitudes towards the EU-led reforms in Turkey. The global cultural structuration in the selected cases (foreigners’ rights, ombudsman, freedom of expression, Cyprus question) could be observed in both the discourse and activities conducted by INGOs and IGOs. As the global emphasis increases, domestic actors are expected to comply. Yet, the timing of domestic compliance often varies significantly. Some domestic actors embrace exogenous reforms more quickly than others. This is associated with the second explanatory factor suggested by Stanford School: structural location of the agent.
Thus, the structural location of the actors helps predict the variation in the reactions towards exogenous reforms. At the individual level, Boyle (2002) finds that state-sponsored actors are more likely to reject radical reforms and to emphasize national autonomy whereas non-governmental actors tend to be more radical in their demands for reforms (they do not abstain from openly accusing national governments) and prioritize universalistic individualism. Yet, the individual level explanations are still a “black box” that Stanford School needs to deal with (ibid.). Then, it is crucial to investigate the varying reasons for support or resistance vis-à-vis EU-propagated reforms in Turkey. This would not only shed light on the processes underlying Europeanization but also would help refine World society model, which is often criticized for embracing a top-down approach that is neglectful of the conflictual processes at the domestic level (Finnemore 1996; Delanty and Rumford 2005:165; Boyle 2002.)”