A Paradigm Shift in the Studies of Turkish Secularism

Secularization has always been a significant dimension of the Ottoman-Turkish modernization since the early 18th century. However, there is no independent literature on this important topic; rather, many historical and sociological studies on the larger modernization process discuss secularization usually in a residual manner. After presenting the general picture of the sociology of religion literature and briefly discussing the conceptual and historical context of secularization in the West as well as its limitations for the non-Western world, this article aims to critically analyze, and present a model of, the existing 'literature' on the relationship between religion and secularism in Turkey by dividing it into two broad perspectives, which I call 'conflict' and 'accommodation' paradigms. These approaches will be compared and contrasted through an examination of their main representatives in the literature, focusing on a set of both the older and younger generations of social scientists, which may provide the reader with an idea about the current direction and the future of the study of secularization in Turkey.


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