Jeffrey C. Dixon is an Assistant Professor at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, USA. He received his PhD in Sociology from Indiana University in 2006 and worked as an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Koç University in Istanbul for three years. His research has been published in Social Forces, Public Opinion Quarterly, The British Journal of Sociology, and International Migration Review, among other journals. In addition to doing research on Turkey and the European Union, he also has research interests in political sociology more broadly, race/ethnicity and social stratification. At the College of the Holy Cross, he teaches seminars on Turkey and the EU, along with research methods, social stratification, and introductory sociology courses.
Changing Turkey: Could you tell us a bit about your recent/forthcoming publications on Turkey; the European views of Turkish EU accession in particular?
Dr. Dixon: My most recent publication on European views of Turkish EU accession is: Dixon, Jeffrey C. 2010. “Opposition to Enlargement as a Symbolic Defence of Group Position: Multilevel Analyses of Attitudes toward Turkey and post-Communist Candidates in the EU-25.” The British Journal of Sociology 61 (1): 131-158. In this article, I argue that European opposition to Turkey’s EU entry is best conceptualized as a “symbolic defence of group position,” which highlights cultural and economic competition among EU members and candidates. The result of this competition is that factors known to shape EU attitudes are differentially activated if candidates are seen as more or less European. In line with the notion that Turkey is viewed as less European, I find that opposition to Turkey’s EU entry is less rooted in feelings of material threat but more rooted in European identity, compared to attitudes toward other EU candidates’ entries. In many ways, this provides contemporary empirical support to speculation that Turkey is viewed differently by Europe.
Changing Turkey: What are the potential limitations of the existing analyses on Turkish politics and society, in your opinion? Could you suggest any gaps in the literature or any potential pitfalls?
Dr. Dixon: I would like to see more theoretically-informed analyses that shed light on Turkey’s similarities to, and differences from, the “East” and “West.” As an anonymous reviewer once suggested, for example, we need research comparing Turkey’s level of democracy to that of other predominantly Muslim countries’, particularly Indonesia’s. At the same time, we need research comparing Turkey to EU member countries, particularly from Eastern and Central Europe. Only then will we know whether the “case” of Turkey operates according to general theoretical processes or is in some ways unique. This will help future research to better frame its research questions and gather data (single-case versus multiple-case studies) to answer these questions.
Changing Turkey: Could you suggest any publications about Turkish politics and society?
Dr. Dixon: Two books stand out as good examples of the kind of research I mentioned above: Lauren McLaren’s Constructing Democracy in Southern Europe: A Comparative Analysis of Italy, Spain, and Turkey (Routledge, 2008) and Ahmet Kuru’s Secularism and State Policies Toward Religion: The United States, France, and Turkey (Cambridge, 2009).