Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Political Science

First Advisor

Hildreth, Roudy


This dissertation investigates how collective identity groups frame their rights claims in the public sphere by exploring what types of framing processes specific groups of activists adopt. My empirical focus is on how certain social movements in Turkey has framed their rights claims in the restrictive nature of the public sphere. What types of frames characterize these movements? This research explores three empirical case studies from Turkey - looking at an Islamic, a women’s rights and an LGBT organization. The main empirical finding of the dissertation is all three organizations endorse a liberal/universalistic frame to be accepted in the Turkish public sphere. The thesis of this dissertation is based on the analysis of the implications, consequences, and tensions that come out of this finding for democratic theory, theorizing Turkey, and social movements. In my analysis, I highlight a paradox in making rights-claims in Turkey. Collective identity groups demand group rights, but they frame these demands in terms of universal human rights language. The reason for the emergence of such paradox – I argue- is because groups want to fit in by adopting the universal language of rights used by the state in its Constitution and laws. Rights-based language could be necessary for certain groups as it is located “within the accepted discursive field resonating with the values of a secular society” (Barras 2009). Using macroframes, such as ‘human rights’, enable groups to appeal to international organizations, as well. This ‘postnational’ approach to rights-claiming can be part of the groups’ mandate to appeal to universal human rights beyond the borders of state sovereignty (Soysal 1998). The implication of this analysis is that social groups’ acts of citizenship conform to dominant frameworks of claims-making. This, in turn, limits their ways of claims-making. For instance, they do not make multicultural claims or challenge the universal citizenship of the liberal state. While each civil society organization under study challenges the secular, the patriachal and the homophobic nature of Turkish citizenship, they conform to the definition of Turkish citizenship which is liberal, universal and individualistic. The dissertation uses the qualitative case study method based on in-depth interviews with the members of the groups.




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