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Session Overview
RN31_10a_IC: Identity and Ethnicity
Friday, 01/Sep/2017:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: LARS TOMAS DENCIK, Roskilde University
Location: Intercontinental - Arcade I
Athenaeum Intercontinental Hotel Syngrou Avenue 89-93 Athens, Greece Floor: Lobby Level

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Ethnicity, Religiosity and Political Behavior in Eastern Turkey

Mesut Yegen

Istanbul Sehir University, Turkey

Relying on a field research conducted in 2014 in 12 provinces in the Southeast and the East of Turkey, this paper aims to explore those sociological factors, which influence the voting patterns in Kurdish towns in Turkey. It examines, in particular, the influence of ethnic and sectarian identity, and religiosity as well as that of socio-demographic characteristics such as age, gender, education and economic status on voting behavior in Kurdish towns. Also is examined whether these variables generate a significant difference in the electorates’ attitudes towards the main cultural and political demands endorsed by the pro-Kurdish parties and groups in Turkey.

The findings of the research attest to the fact that the ethnic identity is the key factor in determining the voting behavior in Kurdish towns and that the ethnic origin is more important than religiosity in determining one’s party choices. Findings indicate that while Kurdish citizens in Kurdish towns mostly vote for the pro-Kurdish party, Turkish and Arab citizens mostly support the Ak Party. Zazas, on the other hand, support both parties. The pro-Kurdish HDP’s support is more among the youngsters, well-educated and the poor. HDP also finds a considerable support from the pious Kurds and Zazas.

Another important finding of the research is that the cultural demands endorsed by the pro-Kurdish movement are approved not only by the citizens backing the HDP, but also by a great majority of the citizens supporting the AK Party.

Blackie Collar: Identity, Precarization and Class

Polat S. Alpman

Yalova University, Turkey

This study aims to explain the relationship between social inequality and ethnic identity. It is based on the findings of a field study which discusses the state of Kurdishness in the context of class relations and the mechanisms of domination along with urban space and spatial differentiation. The study, which deals with the state of Kurdishness in the context of informalization and precarization, presents Kurdisness as an informal identity constructed through experiences in urban space.

The inequalities and discrimination resulted from ethnic domination in class-related exploitative relations and as one of the main indicators of the state of Kurdishness, have been reproduced in the context of spatial differentiation. These, along with ethnic stratification in labour process, have reduced Kurdishness to the identity by attributing an informal nature to it. This has become one of the main signs and indicators of Kurdish identity in İstanbul which is a metropol city. The study in the sample of Istanbul has focused on how the domination over the identity has been experienced in daily life, particularly in labour process and how these experiences have affected the state of Kurdishness in urban space.

In the study, it has been observed that housing in Tarlabaşı as an important spatial resort to reproduce labour for Kurdish labour force migrated to İstanbul after 2000. There is a relational connection between housing in Tarlabaşı and working in Beyoğlu which have been intertwined and become the reason of each other. The relationship between housing and working demonstrates the function of spatial differentiation in the reproduction of labour.

Keywords: Class, Identity, Informalization, Inner city, İstanbul, Kurdish, Precarization, Domination.

Exploring the ‘experiential grammar’ of jihadist movements: Embodied subjectivities and imaginaries in social media communications

Kevin McDonald

Middlesex University, United Kingdom

One of the most significant dimensions of Jihadist movements involves their ‘experiential grammar’, evident in the primacy of personal experience over organizational structure, a development linked to the importance of social media to these movements. This paper uses such communications to explore the experiential dimensions of contemporary jihadist movements, evident in particular in immersive experiences that both amplify and limit what can be felt.

The paper considers three pathways to jihadism. The first is the mutation of humanitarianism, associated with middle class experiences of distant, mediated suffering, where good and evil mutate into purity and impurity, and where jihadism manifests many of the characteristics of racism and hate crime. The second is a communitarian path constructed around a tension between order and disorder, associated in particular with transitions from criminality. The third is constructed around practices and imaginaries of gamification. Within each of these pathways, visceral and embodied experience plays a critical role, from the place of humour as an embodied practice of integration, to the grotesque, central to key transitions associated with jihadism and contemporary racism.

This paper considers theoretical challenges emerging from such practices, in particular the importance of new approaches to embodiment for a Sociology of experience. Methodologically, these movements underline the need to move beyond sociology’s traditional reliance on textual and numerical data, and highlight the need to construct research strategies that engage with social media as a sensory medium.

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