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Narratives: Translating Culture to Action. Paper prepared in the Section › Strategic Narratives ‹ at the 7th Pan‐European International Relations Conference (Standing Group of International Relations), September 9‐11, 2010, Stockholm. Taylan Yildiz | University of Würzburg (Germany) [email protected]‐ DRAFT | ABSTRACT | There must be some mediating device between structure and agency. This is also true for foreign policy making, which ‐ according to the interpretive turn in IR theory ‐ should be conceptualized as a transformation of culturally available self‐representations (structure) into strategies of national interest (agency). However, knowledge about ‚who’ and ‚what’ ‚we’ are is not only a matter of inherited beliefs about ‚ourselves’. It is also a question that permanently needs to be reconsidered in an indeterminate environment with its unpredictable dilemmas. Thus, culture and action are dialectically intertwined and do influence each other in the realm of practice: that is, in the context of performing certain acts to meet specific goals. This paper argues that structure and agency are mediated by narration, which negotiates causal relationships by invoking some cultural resources in order to make sense about some novel ‚facts’ that cannot be handled in routinized ways. However, situational reconsiderations of collective identity lead to the modification of culture and to new chains of interaction. In order to gain a more precise knowledge about such mediating processes it is useful to locate and discuss the role of narratives within the ‚sociology of translation’ (John Law, Bruno Latour). This paper will use this hermeneutic and praxeologically enlarged conception of Narratives, first, to shed light on some seminal developments in Turkey’s foreign policy, and second, to review these developments in order to specify the concepts contextualization in the sociology of translation. Turkey is a good example to do so, because JDP’s foreign policy marks a great period of transformation and seems to challenge the Hobbesean security culture and its institutional parameters, which are so dominant in Turkish Politics. This case provides a good opportunity to study how culture is linked to strategies of action and vice versa. Keywords | XXX | INTRODUCTION | Although most researchers in foreign policy analysis are guided by practical concerns with little interest in theorizing, the discipline is ‐ whether reflected or not ‐ widely dominated by the methodological concept of neoclassical economics. Neoclassicism's first key argument is based on ontological realism. The world is perceived as an objectively given entity that speaks for itself. Secondly, most studies in contemporary foreign policy analysis follow neoclassicism's conception of knowledge and decision making. They assume that action is purposive and that actors’ interests should be deduced from the actors “positions as members of a group or class in relation to members of other groups or classes” (Hindess 1986: 123). From this point of view, knowledge is functional to the task of selecting optimum choices in an objectively given situation (Simon 1997: 78). Both propositions converge to an epistemological monism which is unilaterally aligned with the modernist vision of scientific inquiry. The overall aim of the ›unity of the sciences paradigm‹ is to recover transhistorical valid ›laws of politics‹ or at least "law‐like generalizations that would enable political scientists to explain the existing political world and predict future political developments” (Hawkesworth 2006: 28). There is a lot of research questions left unconsidered here. For example, what kind of general laws and explanatory hypothesis are adequate to postulate? How is it possible to separate relevant ›facts‹ from irrelevant ones? What is the reference point for identifying ›real‹ interests and how should they be ›worked out‹ without considering seriously what happens when humans communicate? What we need is a more specific concept of how to conduct research about politics. Even though the methodological concept of neoclassicism is not completely uncertain (note that it provides researchers with some ideas about action and the world out there), its methodological assumptions are too vague and too general to be translated straightforwardly into an adequate design for empirical analysis. For example, socializing students in the field of IR are widely confused about two competing theories, both claiming to study politics scientifically. For structural realists such as Kenneth Waltz the world ›as it speaks for itself‹ is an anarchical self‐help system composed of the military capabilities of its interacting political units (nation‐states); units that are almost treated "as personalities” (Kissinger 1969: 11). It is assumed that under the conditions of anarchy i.e. the absence of a 2 hierarchical order the international system is "the realm of power, of struggle, and of accommodation” (Waltz 1979: 113). If a country wants to fulfill its national interests, realists argue, it should examine the "imperatives of survival” from the distribution of power capabilities across states (Waltz 1979: 134). In contrast to structural realism, scholars following neoliberal political thought argue that the fundamental impact on state behavior in world politics does not result from the security requirements of the international system. State behavior instead should be conceptualized as the outcome of domestic power relations (Moravcsik 1997: 513). Despite these sharp differences in theorizing, both theoretical traditions fail to account adequately for the centrality of reasoning in political decision making. They do so because their common task of ›recovering objective laws of politics‹ deserves the identification of mere facts. But reasoning refers to a non‐factual cognitive process of interpretation with a significance of its own. It cannot be reduced to slogans designed to win votes (liberalism) or to gain support from other political units with similar or at least compatible interests (realism). Reasoning refers to the justification of political decisions to a concerned audience via culturally available meanings and practices (Swidler 1986). What should be noted here is that the consideration of meaning and practice exceeds the logic of rational choice explanations ‐ whether in its neoliberal or neorealist variant ‐ because “actors have very little choice over what those means are” and which practices are legitimate or not (Hindess 1986: 121f.). This critique draws attention to a process which rational choice theorists frequently treat as a black box: the conditions of possibility for the development of strategic options and courses of collective action. They overlook that political decisions are impossible to take and to implement without recourse to cultural meanings and practices. Defining a situation and accounting for strategic moves in that situation always requires the adaptation to culturally available modes of understanding, reasoning and practicing. This does not mean that the concept of strategically calculated interests should be abandoned at all. It only means that it is more adequate to understand actors’ interests as culturally anchored sources of motivation that might change in the practice of making the decision. Thus, foreign policy should be conceptualized as a contingent transformation (practice) of self‐representations (structure) into strategies of national interest (agency). The praxeological accentuation stems from the idea that knowledge about ›who we are‹ and 3 ›what we need‹, is not only a matter of inherited beliefs about ›ourselves‹. It is also a question that permanently needs to be reconsidered in an indeterminate environment with its unpredictable dilemmas and its multiple ways of organizing ›things‹. Thus, culture and action are intertwined and do influence each other in the realm of practice: that is, in the context of performing certain acts to meet specific goals. In this paper I will argue that interests result from the interplay of structure and agency and are mediated by the narration of causal relationships. Narration is the process of making sense about novel ›facts‹ that cannot be handled and calculated within the preexisting routines. However, situational reconsiderations of collective interests lead to the modification of collective identities and might develop new chains of interaction. In order to gain a more precise insight in such mediating processes it is useful to locate and discuss the role of narratives within the ›sociology of translation‹. I will do so by combining three theoretical ideas:1 1) social orders are structured by well established routines and interests’ only need to be negotiated when work in a group ceases to be habitual procedure; 2) interests are mediators which translate diffuse needs into strategies of action; 3) the process of translation is organized by narration, a collaborative performance which creates knowledge about a groups needs and its circumstances. From these considerations I will specify the narrative method that allows the investigation into the emerging definitions of the situation (abduction) and the social construction of what or who causes the ›observed‹ outcome (plotting). This paper will employ this kind of a hermeneutic and praxeologically enlarged conception of Narratives, first, to shed light on some seminal developments in Turkey's foreign policy, and second, to review these developments in order to specify the concepts contextualization in the sociology of translation. Turkey is a good example to do so, because AK Parti's foreign policy marks a great period of transformation and seems to challenge the Hobbesean security culture and its institutional parameters, which are so dominant in Turkish Politics. This case provides a good opportunity to study how culture is linked to strategies of action and vice versa. 1 This paper outlines these three ideas very briefly. The finalized paper will further elaborate the argument in separate subchapters. 4 | AGENCY AS MEANINGFUL ACTION | Traditional research in Foreign Policy Analysis is widely based on a rationalist and utilitarian conception of action and agency. Supported by behaviorism, the main argument is composed by a view of human conduct as a rational and calculated respond to external stimuli. Such a concept combines a materialist ontology with the belief that the world ‐ understood as an ›unmediated given‹ ‐ can be represented by a passive and receptive observer. Against this methodological background, scholars following the interpretive turn deploy a conception of agency that is internal to the social sciences. Instead of assuming that social and natural realities are of the same kind, interpretive scholars emphasize a dualistic methodology based on an understanding of agency as meaningful action: “if the human sciences claim to study human activities, then the human sciences, unlike the natural sciences, must take account of those human activities which make possible their own discipline” (Dreyfus 1985: 240). To account adequately for human activities is to reject the idea that actors do ›respond‹ to external stimuli only with regard to their individual and predetermined purposes. Such a conceptualization of agency is truly naïve because it rests upon a flawed understanding of the relationship between perception and action (Hawkesworth 2006: 31; Streit 2000; Rosch 1999). For example, recent studies in cognitive psychology claim that the human mind is always imposing order on incoming sense‐data by attributing significance to some of the objects and events in the world more than to others (Núñez & Freeman 1999; Gigerenzer & Selten 2001). Actors – whether individual or collective ‐ do not simply represent the external world in their minds before they try to find the best strategies for action. They are rather employing contingent world and self imaginations in order “to make sense of complex, information‐rich situations” (Schön & Rein 1994: 30). Observation and preference building is thus an interrelated act of interpretation and categorization and this act is not separable from the life experiences of the actors concerned. That is why actors in any given situation can interpret that situation and their interests in different ways (Bevir 2004: 609) and the question ›which position is correct?‹ is a matter of negotiation and dispute and not of ›validity‹ of one attribution of interests (Hindess 1986: 120). According to this methodological position, observations ‐ whether in science or in ›real‹ world situations ‐ are contingent. This in turn means that the objects of interpretation 5 are not the only sources of knowledge. Knowledge about the world as well as one’s own position in it is also structured and organized by the utilized conceptual frames and categories. Jutta Weldes, for example, expresses the implication of this interpretive conceptualization of agency for Foreign Policy Analysis as follows: Before state officials can act for the state, they need to engage in a process of interpretation in order to understand both what situation the state faces and how they should respond to it. This process of interpretation, in turn, presupposes a language shared, at least, by those state officials involved in determining state action and by the audience for whom state action must be legitimate. (…) The ‘national interest’, that is, is constructed, is created as a meaningful object, out of shared meanings through which the world, particularly the international system and the place of the state in it, is understood (Weldes 1996: 276f.). Weldes emphasizes the role of shared meanings to prevent the misunderstanding that the interpretive tools which actors use in order to understand and to act upon the world ›outside there‹ are neither objective nor entirely private. They are socially learned and practiced in particular situations. | STRUCTURE AS COLLECTIVE IDENTITY | While traditional researchers tend to think about structure in terms of an independent and materially composed entity, interpretivists understand structure as a constructed and constantly floating social ›reality‹ located in those webs of meanings that agents employ in order to organize their practices. Or more generally spoken, interpretivists locate the ›locus of the social‹ (Reckwitz 2002) in magma‐like2 structures of knowledge and imagination. When critics of interpretivism claim that such an understanding of structure denies the “existence of a phenomenal world, external to thought”, they are simply misleading. What interpretivists really do is to oppose to the idea “that phenomena can constitute themselves as objects of knowledge independently of discursive practices. (…) What counts as a socially meaningful object or event is always the result of an interpretive construction of the world out there” (Guzzini 2000: 159). Thus, Structure is ‐ as well as action ‐ contingent. Note that different interpretations of facts and events go to compose different political positions and intervening strategies. As Hubert L. Dreyfus has rightly noticed on this issue: in conflicts of interpretation “the question is not which view of what is important corresponds to the way things are in themselves, but rather, which is the better account of our condition, i.e., which allows a 2 Look for the term magma Castoriadis 1998. 6 deeper appreciation of the cultural commitments we cannot help sharing because they make us what we are” (Dreyfus 1985: 227). While neoclassic research strategies tend to deduce actors interests from their ›positions as members of a group or class in relation to members of other groups or classes‹ ‐ to rephrase Hindess’ formulation ‐ then interpretivists ask the question, how the belonging to a group, or class, or any other collectively acting agency is constituted or ›discoursed‹. What has been addressed by Dreyfus and Hindess more generally is central for interpretive research agendas in foreign policy analysis. That is because decision making in foreign policy always relies on shared beliefs about who and what ›we‹ are, “whom do we protect and accept as a member, and which exercises of power are legitimate” (Kratochwil 2008: 444). Although the state is “the official center of self conscious collective action” (Connolly 1991: 201) decision makers in foreign policy are always situated within a larger political and public sphere. As a consequence, their representations always have to “draw upon and are formed by the representations articulated by a larger number of individuals, institutions, and media outlets” (Hansen 2006: 7). That is why collective identity and the process of its definition is so central for foreign policy analysis. But what is meant by collective Identity? In William Connolly’s words A collective Identity is a set of interlocking elements in strife and tension, a set periodically scrambled, reorganized, blocked, and gridlocked by contingencies from within and without. But it tends to represent itself to itself as a relatively harmonious set of parts that function smoothly together unless irresponsible, evil, sick, or naïve forces – inside or outside its boundaries – disrupt this harmony (Connolly 1991: 204). Thinking about collective identity in terms of a set of interlocking elements in strife and tension means that the state – if it is composed in order to separate the domestic sphere of progress and stability from the international ›realm of power, of struggle, and of accommodation‹ ‐ only will know “who and what it is through its juxtaposition against the radical, threatening Other” (Hansen 2006: 34). But as Lene Hansen goes on to argue: “The protection of the state against an external Other is often intimately linked with the delineation of an internal Other” (Hansen 2006: 34) and that is one of the main reasons why “no version of the social order (...) is ever complete, autonomous, and final. (...) [T]here is no such thing as ‘the social order’ with a single center, or a single set of stable relations. Rather, there are orders, in the plural. And, of course, there are resistances” (Law 1992: 386). The invocation of collective identity should thus not “serve the dual role of inscribing ideational sameness within a population, and difference between one 7 population and one another” (Helliwell & Hindess 1999: 2). Rather we should take into account that the collective identities of large scale social units are ›essentially contested‹ and anytime open to debate. | A PRAXEOLOGY OF AGENCY AND STRUCTURE | The main task of practice theory is to account adequately for the mutual dependency and dynamic relationship between agency and structure. It helps us to understand how foreign policy relies on representations of collective identity and collective identity at the same time is produced and reproduced through the decisions made in foreign policy (Hansen 2006: 1). It is impossible to understand agency and structure in foreign policy adequately without reference to those situations and practices in which they appear. The emphasis on ›situation‹ is very important here, because it is the ›place‹ in which the negative effects of contingency can be alleviated either by existing routines, or, if those routines fail to give meaning to that situation, by newly emerging problem definitions and strategies of action. So, what we need to do in our empirical investigation is to “understand how issues of uncertainty are handled in practice” (Kartochwill 2008: 445). According to Andreas Reckwitz a practice refers to “a routinized way in which bodies are moved, objects are handled, subjects are treated, things are described and the world is understood” (Reckwitz 2002: 250). For example, to say that practices are routinized bodily and mental activities means that the state as ›the official center of self conscious collective action‹ must at least carry out its strategies of action in a certain way of handling objects and performing “‘intellectual’ activities such as talking, reading or writing” (Reckwitz 2002: 251). State action thus requires well established routines of understanding itself and its position in relation to other states. Practice theory should not be mistaken as a trivialization of politics and other social activities. It is the attempt to understand the discursive construction of interests more precisely than it is usually done. It poses such research questions which neoclassical approaches solve by assumption: where do the interests come from and how do actors carry them out and generate social effects? I will provide an interpretive and praxeological answer to this question by combining three ideas. The first idea is that social orders and regularities are structured by well established routines. Interests only need to be ascribed and enabled when work in a 8 group ceases to be habitual procedure. This is the temporality of structure assumption3. Secondly, interests do not function as a mere ›intermediary‹ transmission between actors’ problems of acting and their strategies of intervention. Interests need to be ascribed, negotiated and supported under the conditions of uncertainty and depend on the cultural meanings available. That is why the input of interests’ (the malfunction of routines) “is never a good predictor of their output.” Rather interests have to be understood as ›mediators‹ which “transform, translate, distort, and modify the meaning or the elements they are supposed to carry” (Latour 2005: 39). This is the logic of translation assumption. Finally, I will add a narrative assumption in order to indicate a closer attention to the process of ascription, negotiation and support (shared meaning). I understand narration as a collaborative performance which creates knowledge about a group’s needs and wants and the circumstances in which it finds itself, and in doing so it simultaneously expresses “in one’s own language what others say and want, why they act in the way they do and how they associate with each other” (Callon 1986: 223). The narrative assumption is less concerned with the question of how actors use narrative instrumentally to enhance the legitimacy of some predetermined interests. Rather it explores “how policy makers select the facts, order the facts into a plausible narrative, and negotiate a viable choice” (Abolafia 2010: 350). | METHOD & DATA | The interpretive turn has been developed in debate with neoclassic research programs and by criticizing their tendency to explain agency either by structural causes (context) or by material purposes (conduct). The two dominant ›schools‹ in IR theory ‐ neorealism and neoliberalism – reduce agency to a particular logic (homo oeconomicus) without any consideration of the creativity it can take in respond to novel circumstances. Moreover, both neo‐approaches share the belief that ›social facts‹ can be treated like ›natural‹ ones. On behalf of these two methodological positions they assume that, if the concepts for 3 “Routinized social practices occur in the sequence of time, in repetition; social order is thus basically social reproduction. For practice theory, then, the ‘breaking’ and ‘shifting’ of structures must take place in everyday crises of routines, in constellations of interpretative indeterminacy and of the inadequacy of knowledge with which the agent, carrying out a practice, is confronted in the face of a ‘situation’” (Reckwitz 2002: 255). 9 empirical investigation “were not really matching the ‘world,’ then the success of science would be a miracle” (Kratochwil 2008: 455). The approach I have posed presents an alternative research strategy. Its methodological key position is that agents are constrained and enabled by structural settings ‐ such as collective identities, norms, and institutions ‐ but are also capable to change the context of their actions within historical episodes. That is, “agency and structure are conceived of as comprising (…) a complex duality linked in a creative relationship” (Hay & Wincott 1998: 956). Accessing data in order to investigate this creative relationship is always relative to the topic under question. Interpretivists usually employ a variety of methods such as “talking, observing, and reading” (Yanow & Schwatz‐Shea 2006: 115‐ 126) and do not follow rigorously developed methods of data‐gathering. Broadly speaking, interpretive research is about unpacking webs of meanings in particular settings. The researcher is concerned with a narrative moment (Maines 1993) and investigates verbal data “to show how forms of governance arise as products of actions that embody the multiple beliefs legislators, bureaucrats, and others have come to adopt through a process of modifying diverse traditions to meet specific dilemmas” (Bevir 2006: 282). From these considerations I will specify the narrative method with a duality of focus. This focus includes, first, an investigation into the narrative construction of the situation. To be sure, it is not about how ›real‹ these constructions are. It rather highlights the social and political consequences of such definitions ‐ whether they are corresponding to an ontological truth or not. The question is how actors arrive at a feasible description of the situation ›at hand‹, how they negotiate a need for action and assemble energies in order to act adequately. The narration as sense‐making literature refers to this process as abduction (Polkinghorne 1988). Secondly, I focus on how actors make sense of their successes and their failures and how they construct the causes of the puzzling outcome. Still, the narrative method is not about how ›real‹ these negotiated causes are. The focus is on the question to whom or what the assembled energies are turned to and who or what an (securitized) object of progressing action becomes. The focal point of this process has been described by Polkinghorne as plotting; as a story like explanation of the abducted misfits. A plot translates the process of abduction into a solution to the problems by constructing causally related episodes that can be utilized as paths for 10 action. What should be noted here is that the teller of a plotted narrative “is depending on the shared understanding of his or her listeners” (Abolafia 2010: 355). This paper elaborates the dual focus of the narrative method by examining AK Parti’s (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi | Justice and Development Party) efforts to renew its strategic partnership with the USA. The data is drawn from two sources. First, from Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s speech titled Conservative Democracy and the Globalization of Freedom which he had delivered at the American Enterprise Institute in January 2004. This speech is here of particular importance because it reflects a period of high uncertainty in Turkey’s foreign policy and contains a careful and vivid narrative with three basic elements. First, it performs AKP’s self‐imaginary as a stakeholder of a normalized democracy. Secondly, it translates this imaginary into a necessity for the diffusion of freedom in the Middle East and by doing so; thirdly, it keeps its self‐image consistent with USA’s and NATO’s strategy of promoting democracies. It thus stabilizes the democratic peace thesis as a ›fact‹ and drives attention “to the question of how the theories of IR relate empirically to the practice of world politics” (Büger & Villumsen 2007: 417). The second source is Abdullah Gül’s4 speech at the ›International Conference of Islamic Civil Society Organizations‹ which was organized under the topic In Search of a New Vision in a Changing World. He held his speech The Need for Reform in the Islamic World on May 1, 2005, in Istanbul. It demonstrates very eloquently how Turkey is performing its self‐image as a bridge between the East and the West. Sure, both sources don’t cover the full picture. But the selection is, however, valuable for an adequate illustration of the praxeological argument and the narrative method I have outlined briefly. | CASE STUDY: TURKEY’S NEW FOREIGN POLICY5 | With the outbreak of the Cold War Turkey became one of the most important strategic allies of the West and was classified in Washington as an integral part of Europe. This was not merely a “function of cooperation against a common enemy or threat”. The 4 Then Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs – since August 2007 President of the Republic of Turkey. 5 In the following two subchapters (Abduction | Plotting) I will only list a few speech‐examples which will be elaborated in the panel presentation and in the finalized paper. 11 classification was also related to Turkey’s modernist commitment in a predominantly Muslim region (Kirişçi 1998: 18). But after the collapse of communism in the late 1980’s Turkey’s pivotal status seemed to recede. A remarkable turning point was reached when on March 1 2003 the Turkish Parliament refused to authorize American troops to deploy on Turkish soil a northern front against Saddam Hussein’s regime. Many observers suggested that Turkey is becoming anti‐western and that American diplomats and CENTCOM officers in the Arab world increasingly react with a “cynical distrust and dislike of Turkey” (Rubin 2004). What is very puzzling on this issue is that anti‐
westernism used to be presented as a reactionary ideology of Islamist movements. But today, the picture is very different. While the AK‐Parti made remarkable steps in order to meet the Copenhagen criteria for membership in the EU, secularist circles in Turkish politics have revealed a strong hostility towards liberal values.6 In this context, the selected speeches will not only demonstrate how narrative shifts in Islamic identity have opened spaces for the renewal of Turkey’s strategic partnership with ›the West‹. It will be also possible to show which ›interlocking elements‹ could be stabilized along with such efforts and how the collective identity of Turkey was able to innovate ›itself‹ by incorporating liberal plots. In this point I will follow M. Hakan Yavuz, who has argued that the incorporation of liberalism was not merely an intermediary process of adapting its core values and expectations, but a complex one which should be conceptualized as a vernacularization of modernity. His idea stands close to the term mediators, which Bruno Latour has elaborated in his introduction to ANT. Yavuz defines it as the efforts of Islamic intellectuals and movements to redefine the discourses of modernity (nationalism, secularism, democracy, human rights, the liberal market, and personal autonomy) in their own Islamic terms. ‘Vernacularization’ is a somewhat paradoxical process, in which the boundaries of the Islamic normative tradition are simultaneously preserved and radically altered. It both configures and assimilates certain aspects of modernity; however, it rejects and contests them at the same time (Yavuz 2003: 5). | Abduction: From Problems to Models | RTE: Living in a world where violence and conflict are still with us (...) deprivation and injustice, poverty, and political suppression (...) prevail (...) which can be abused by groups wanting to disrupt international peace and stability. 6 For example, retired General Nejat Eslen explained Turkey’s new strategic vision as composed by the Idea that “Turkey should abandon the Western alliance and embrace Russia, meanwhile forgetting about democracy” (Nejat Eslen quoted in Daği 2008). 12 AG: We recognize that the problems of the Islamic world which are yet to be resolved date back before the geopolitical changes that we have witnessed in recent years throughout the whole world and particularly in the Middle East. However, it is also a fact that the developments affecting international order, and in particular the increasing power of globalization to influence all walks of life have rendered the need to find solutions to our problems even more urgent. AG: Clearly, the reform that is needed here pertains to the governance of Muslim societies, not Islam itself. Islam does not, of course, need to be reformed. RTE: The most effective source to make societies more prosperous, open, and democratic, and thus render regimes stronger and more peaceful, can be found within those societies themselves. On the other hand, other countries can also wholeheartedly support, encourage, and facilitate this process and can act as examples. RTE: Mr. Chairman, distinguished guests, one of the greatest common denominators of mankind’s existence on earth is the development of humanistic values over centuries. Universal values that are embodied in the concept of democracy and supported by principles such as human rights, rule of law, good governance are the product of the collected wisdom derived from different civilizations. Historically, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have all played a central role in forming this collective wisdom. However, the present instability and the conflict in the very region which gave birth to these three great religions prevent the realization of the vast potential which exists there, and stall collective wisdom. AK Parti gives reference to and acts on the basis of a separate political identity which is conceptualized as conservative democracy. Although ›conservatism‹ and ›democracy‹ are both contextually bound and contested concepts which emerged throughout the world in different means they worked very well in opening the imagination of AEI’s audience for the story of the teller and the vision of his AK Parti. RTE: I would like to share with you today the path we take and the political approach we employ in our efforts to make this vision a reality. I call this “conservative democracy”. This approach [...] represents a new political style and understanding in Turkish political life. I believe that this new approach [...] has significance that goes beyond the borders of Turkey. RTE: A significant part of the Turkish society desires to adopt a concept of modernity that does not reject tradition, a belief of universalism that accepts localism, an understanding of rationalism that does not disregard the spiritual meaning of life, and a choice for change that is not fundamentalist. The concept of conservative democracy is, in fact, and answers to this desire of the Turkish people. RTE: The ideal is not to have a mechanical democracy that is reduced to elections and certain institutions, but an organic democracy that pervades into the administrative, social, and political fields (emphasis mine). AG: There is indeed a rich and useful common core shared by Muslim societies. This core is in full harmony with universal values. Principles such as justice, sense of helping and sharing, compassion, moderation, equality, struggle with injustice and corruption and respect for diversity that are at the root of Islam have contributed to universal values throughout centuries. 13 The model of conservative democracy is somewhat paradoxical. It combines western pluralism with an organic conception based on a common core shared by Muslim societies. XXX | Plotting: Factualizing the Democratic Peace Thesis | The production of coherent narratives is multi voiced and fragmented in so far as it assembles different cultural and semiotic resources. It is thus important to bring the different writers and readers of a plot (democratic peace) into an intertextual dialogue. A carefully selected ›text‹ will constitute a viable possibility to do so. RTE: For our part, we need to [...] build a platform of dialogue and common language of peace. With its own stable and successful model of development, its place in the Western world, and its rich historical legacy and identity, Turkey will be a symbol of the harmony of cultures and civilizations in the twenty‐first century. Turkey will achieve this not merely through its economic and military power, but its ability to make contributions to the universally accepted values and facilitate their dissemination and interaction among various parts of the world. In this sense, Turkey in its region and especially in the Middle East will be a guide in overcoming instability, a driving force for economic development, and a reliable partner in ensuring security. AG: Obviously, the growing role of civil society organizations in political life is a relatively new phenomenon. Accordingly, the ‘state’ which is increasingly confronted by these new actors in its traditional domains of sovereignty shows certain reflexes against them. At times, civil society organizations, in their capacity as the advocate of individual and societal rights, criticize the state. This is an important function, and, in the final analysis, contributes to improving the administration of societies. There is a particular redefinition of the ›Us‹ vs. ›Them‹ antagonisms in Erdoğan’s speech which refers to the practice and theory of democratic peace. According to him this divide is not between Islam and Christianity, but between the ›promoters of universal values‹ and ›the supporters of terrorism‹ who are accused of ›destroying the house of God‹. Abdullah Gül, who speaks for the universal values but as a common Muslim core, answers the question of how to ensure security under the conditions of globalization – or to put it conversely; how to ›make the most out of the human potential of Muslim societies‹. His plead for strengthening civil society organizations reflects the permanent insecurity which Muslim movements felt in confrontation with the authoritarian state practices of the secularist establishment. 14 | REFERENCES | | Primary | Conservative Democracy and the Globalization of Freedom, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s speech at the American Enterprise Institute (January 29, 2004), printed in M. Hakan Yavuz (ed.): The Emergence of a New Turkey. Democracy and the AK Parti, Salt Lake City: The University of Utah Press, 333‐340. 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