In Search of a Non-Eurocentric Understanding of Modernization: Turkey as a Case of 'Multiple Modernities'

Goksel O.

MEDITERRANEAN POLITICS, vol.21, no.2, pp.246-267, 2016 (Journal Indexed in SSCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 21 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2016
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/13629395.2015.1092293
  • Page Numbers: pp.246-267
  • Keywords: democratization, economic development, secularism, social change, Modernization, Turkey, DEMOCRACY


This article uses the Turkish case of modernity to critically examine different understandings of modernization put forward by competing schools of thought, namely the 'classical modernization theory', the 'neo-modernization theory' and the 'multiple modernities paradigm'. In the context of modernization studies, Turkey has long held a special place as numerous scholars have studied this country in an attempt to validate the 'convergence thesis' - namely the idea that once a non-western society launches a secularization and/or an industrialization programme, its political regime and socio-economic life would eventually resemble its western counterparts. Firstly, the three theories are comparatively analysed by discussing how they perceive the concept of modernity and its interaction with religion, economic development and democratization. Then, the theories are reviewed in light of the Turkish experience. It is argued that the Turkish modernity can be best comprehended through the lens of the multiple modernities paradigm that challenges the Eurocentric assumption of classical modernization and neo-modernization theories based on the convergence thesis.