The pious dissidence in Turkey: contesting religious neoliberal governmentality under the AKP

Umut Korkut*, Yusuf Sarfati

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
229 Downloads (Pure)


Turkey under the AKP governments constitutes an exemplary case for understanding how centralized religion, authoritarianism, and economic logic of neoliberalism interrelate. AKP uses state-guided religion to legitimize its neoliberal economic policies and create docile, economized citizens. This article specifically focuses on how pious Muslims resist AKP’s religious neoliberalism by focusing on actions and deliberations of Labor and Justice Platform members. Our discussion, which consists of face-to-face interviews with the members of this social movement, delineates the group’s justice-oriented, egalitarian, and pluralist orientation of Islam and depicts their dialogues with power – embodied in AKP’s domination of Islamic discourse in Turkey. We discuss how group members reinterpret religious concepts such as kader (fate), kısmet (destiny), and sabır (patience) that the AKP uses as micro-discursive mechanisms to create economically compliant citizens. We also discuss the specific frames of resistance they develop in order to break out from the resilience and adaptation that AKP has embedded in its narratives of economy and work. These frames include a sharp criticism of market Islam, a challenge to political Islam and dissent against state Islam. Theoretically, the article refers to neoliberal governmentality and explores its contestation – an understudied concept in Foucauldian studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)413-427
Number of pages15
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2020


  • Turkey
  • dissidence
  • Foucauldian studies
  • AKP
  • political Islam
  • neoliberal governmentality
  • new social movements


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