Utilizing 60 interviews, we examine how people belonging to different gender, ethnic, and sectarian groups in Turkey define democracy and the democratic state. An analysis of the interviews reveals that women emphasize gender equality, while Kurds and Alevis focus on rights and freedoms in their definitions of democracy. Male Sunni Turks, on the other hand, focus on economic welfare. On the basis of these results, we argue that identity groups that have a problematic relationship with the state are more likely to define democracy in terms of rights and freedoms, whereas those who do not have a problematic relationship with the state are more likely to consider economic issues as central to democracy. This research also examined people’s expectations of a democratic state. When male Sunni Turks indicated that equality is among their expectations of a democratic state, they formulated it in terms of the state realizing economic equality. Female Sunni Turks, Kurds, and Alevis, on the other hand, emphasized the provision of equality among different ethnic and religious groups in their expectations of a democratic state. These important differences among identity groups in Turkey in terms of their attitudes toward democracy and the democratic state illustrate the problems involved in consolidating democracy as well as significant challenges in lessening social differentiation regarding this issue.
- definitions of democracy, Turkey, identity groups