Emrah Celik PhD Thesis


A Qualitative Enquiry into the Understandings and Experiences of Turkish University Students


This research explores the ways in which young Turkish university students understand, express and negotiate religious practice versus secularism in the public and private spheres as these have emerged in the early twenty-first century, in light of the historical polarisation between Islamism and secularism in Turkey.

Data was collected using qualitative research methodologies, including participant observation and in-depth interviews with forty-five university students in Istanbul, Turkey. This latter method allowed participants to express their perceptions and experiences about the relationship between Islam and secularity in the context of Turkey’s move to democracy, and the success of the AKP religious party in democratic elections.

The thesis begins with a review of relevant scholarly literature; first, debates on the relationship between Islam and the secular state, and secularist policies of Turkey; second, social and cultural conceptions of the relationship between Islam and secularity in Turkey; third, philosophical and conceptual debates on Islam and secularity.

Examining this issue, I explore (1) the perceptions and views of university students on secularism and Islamism, the secularist state and the Islamic state; (2) their understanding and experience of religiosity and secularity; (3) the impact of religious groups in Turkey on the relationship of university students with religion, secularity and modernity; (4) the divisions or cohesion of Turkish society based on religion, culture, and lifestyle. I then move on to present and examine one of the most prominent public events of Turkish politics in 2013, the Gezi Park Protests, in terms of the subject of my thesis.

The thesis concludes that Turkish university students, both secular and religiously oriented, do successfully negotiate the secular spaces of the public sphere, and have developed new kinds of religiosity and Islamic understanding that stress individual choice and shape their attitudes towards the state, politics, and fellow students who choose to embrace different lifestyles.


To find the thesis at the library of Keele University:{240}Celik%2C+Emrah/acelik+emrah/-3%2C-1%2C0%2CB/frameset&FF=acelik+emrah&1%2C1%2C

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