The two images above are opposing images of actors in the Armenian genocide in 1914 and 1915 in the Ottoman Empire, yet a Western-Orientalist belief system undergirds them both. Do the beliefs that led to the massacres of Armenians, Greeks, and Assyrians over one hundred years ago still persist in Turkey today, and if so, to what degree? How important are ontological views about minority accommodation - whether defined by ethnicity, religion, culture - for determining the politics of policy-making in Turkey?
One thing is for certain - the belief systems here are complicated. Disentangling how competing beliefs about minorities and their accommodation play out at the elite level is highly policy-relevant, as the current situation with the decision to join the international coalition fighting ISIS by the Turkish government shows. Should it support its Sunni brothers - and if so, the Syrian Kurds, who could align with Iraqi and Turkish Kurds to form a more powerful player against the Turkish state? Ethnic, religious, and cultural cleavages all play into whether and how Turkey can align with the security alliance it committed to through NATO accession.
Therefore, I've found, defining the core policy beliefs of different coalitions in Turkish constitutional reform per the Advocacy Coalition Framework (ACF), originated by Jenkins-Smith and Sabatier proves to be difficult. This framework proposes that the political context of policy-making affects how collective action for making policy occurs. Further narrowing down "political context," my research will investigate - how do different authoritarianism(s) affect the policy-making process?
ACF presupposes that core ontological beliefs define the groups that advocate for policy change. These beliefs do not change easily; changing them, according to Sabatier, is akin to a "religious conversion." Moreover, when they do change policy, they change slowly, over decades. The coalitions include more than public actors; that is to say, they include interest groups, civil society, and the media. Over time, the accumulation of information and its exchange result in policy learning (or not!). Policy change is the result of the generally slow process of learning or the slightly faster process of reacting to exogenous events, like wars or economic crises.
The framework has mostly been applied to advanced industrialized democracies. One of my research goals is to highlight the differences of applying this framework (and others) in non-democratic settings. I find that one key difference is the strategic use of policy-making under authoritarianism when their power is secure versus when their power is under threat. When there are not potential successors for the incumbents with a credible threat of seizing power, the dominant coalition in limited authoritarianism is expansionist in its nature -- it seeks to realize its policy core beliefs through outward-oriented implementation. When under threat, it is conservative, by which I mean it seeks to remove the threat in order to conserve its power to realize its policy core beliefs. If we trace this over long periods of time, a pattern of oppression and retaliation or revenge also seems to appear.
The advocacy coalition framework for policy-making, but it has three levels of beliefs: deep core, policy core, and secondary policy beliefs. The deep core, or "basic ontological and normative beliefs, such as the relative valuation of individual freedom versus social equality." In theory, they are resistant to change; changing only slowly over decades or with the impact of powerful external events, as noted before. Policy core beliefs are "a coalition's basic normative commitments and causal perceptions across an entire policy domain or subsystem. They include fundamental value priorities... basic perceptions concerning the general seriousness of the problem and its principal causes; and strategies for realizing core values within the subsystem... policy core beliefs are the fundamental 'glue' of coalitions because they represent basic normative and empirical commitments within the domain of specialization of policy elites..." (Sabatier).
These include the appropriate division of authority between governments and markets, the level of government best suited to deal with the problem, and the basic policy instruments to be used. They may change over a period of time with the gradual accumulation of evidence. Secondary beliefs comprise a " large set of narrower beliefs concerning the seriousness of the problem or the relative importance of various causal factors in specific locales, policy preferences regarding desirable regulations or budgetary allocations, the design of specific institutions, and the evaluations of various actors' performance." These change with new data or strategic considerations.
I write about contemporary events and my hope that persistence wins over intractability.