A Political Economy of Insecurity?
: State and Socio-Economic Actors in the Making of Industrial Relations in Modern Turkey

  • Didem Ozkiziltan

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Most of the contemporary literature on Turkey’s industrial relations emphasises the impact of globalisation in bringing about fundamental institutional changes in the domain of industrial relations that have resulted in diminished capability of organised labour to act as an independent socioeconomic actor. However, what is often overlooked in these accounts is the historical continuity of insecurity as an embedded rationale in the institutions regulating industrial relations, the roots of which can be traced back to the first steps towards industrialisation following the establishment of the Republic of Turkey. The emergence of what I call the political economy of insecurity in Turkey was carried out by the generations of political actors to come and has had two far-reaching consequences in the domain of industrial relations. First, it distributed power between actors in favour of capital and the state. And second, with an exception of a couple of years, it served as an effective tool for the political actors to steer the behaviours of labour in the direction of so-called social peace and order. Against this background, my study investigates the institutionalisation of insecurity as a rationale in the political economy of Turkey’s industrial relations during the 20th century. It highlights the centrality of the modern Turkish state in shaping the interests of and interactions between the socioeconomic actors in modern Turkish society and the economy by adopting a long historico-institutionalist perspective, beginning with the early years of republican period and ending with Turkey’s integration into the global economy.The overall contributions of this study can be outlined in terms of theoretical, empirical and methodological aspects. Theoretically, this thesis brings forth new comprehension of the concept of security/insecurity by analysing it in relation to its different facets, i.e. security as one form of power resource, as an institutional outcome, and as an institutional rationale. Empirically, by taking an historical-institutionalist approach and by building on a power-sensitive perspective, the work investigates the formation and (re)configuration of Turkish industrial relations and calls attention to historically entrenched class alliances in the (re)distribution of power resources between the state, employers and labour, which is still an under-researched area. Methodologically, by examining industrial relations over a period of time as an institution, and by inserting power and actors at the heart of the analysis, this study presents a detailed and power-sensitive account of the institutional continuity, development and change that came into place in Turkey’s industrial relations.
Date of Award28 May 2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorTheodoros Papadopoulos (Supervisor)


  • insecurity
  • industrial relations
  • Turkey

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