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The popular, the plebeian and the populist

To throw some light on discussions about the ‘people’ and the ‘popular’, one need only bear in mind that the ‘people’ or the ‘popular’ (‘popular art’, ‘popular religion’, ‘popular medicine’, etc.) is first of all one of the things at stake in the struggle between intellectuals. The fact of being or feeling authorized to speak about the ‘people’ or of speaking for (in both senses of the word) the ‘people’ may constitute, in itself, a force in the struggles within different fields, political, religious, artistic, etc.: a force that is all the greater the weaker the relative autonomy of the field under consideration.

Pierre Bourdieu


Turkish Politics and ‘the People’: Mass Mobilization and Populism Edinburgh University Press 2022

Turkish Politics and ‘the People is premised on a discursive approach that integrates discourse in the strict sense & action. It brings together modes of analysis from a diverse body of scholarship – sociology, cultural, psychosocial studies, political science & theory into a genealogical narrative that stresses the role of societal, political & corporeal memory in the construction of the popular. The book elucidates the transformations of the people in republican politics & gauges the ramifications of the populist turn in Turkey’s political trajectory.

Book details

Alone in the City: Gezi as a Moment of Transgression

This chapter attempts to make sense of the ongoing struggle to name/define and give specific direction and purpose to the Gezi protests, an outburst of collective action and mass mobilization that took Turkey aback and prompted a violent and uncompromising response from an increasingly authoritarian government. It examines the emergence and brief career of the events, situates them within (and outside) the context of both Turkey’s protest culture and, more generally the current phase of Turkey’s post-Islamist politics and puts forward an interpretation of Gezi as an almost solitary moment disrupting the ‘time’ of conventional politics in a society that is deeply divided in its understandings of democracy, representation and protest.

Sofos, S. (2017). Alone in the City: Gezi as a Moment of Transgression. In: Hemer, O., Persson, HÅ. (eds) In the Aftermath of Gezi. Palgrave Studies in Communication for Social Change. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

A momentary lapse of reason? Gezi in social-historical perspective

Through the social-historical contextualization of Gezi protests and drawing on the works of Badiou and Turner this article conceptualises the protests as a ‘happening’ or ‘event’ characterized by rupture and liminality. Without underestimating their importance as a meaning-creation process, it is argued that the visions inspiring Gezi have been/are in sharp contrast to the version of democracy shaped by the fears and aspirations of at least a plurality of the country’s citizenry and enacted by the Justice and Development Party (AKP). At the same time, these visions remain largely incomprehensible to the Kemalist and nationalist opposition. The paper, therefore, suggests that Gezi should be located outside the linear time and conventional topography of Turkish politics and interpreted as a brief, powerful moment of rupture in a political system where both the incumbent political forces and the opposition and their constituencies are resisting change and consider extra-institutional ‘antipolitics’ as a threat.

Λαϊκή ταυτότητα και πολιτική κουλτούρα στη μεταδικτατορική Ελλάδα: προς μια πολιτισμική προσέγγιση του λαϊκιστικού φαινομένου


Spyros A. Sofos (2022) Turkish Politics and ‘The People’: Mass Mobilisation and Populism, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press (monograph).


Spyros A. Sofos (2018) ‘A Momentary Lapse of Reason: Gezi in Historical Perspective’ Journal of Historical Sociology 31:1


S.A. Sofos (2017) ‘Alone in the City: Gezi as a Moment of Transgression’ in O. Hemer, H-Å. Persson & T. Tufte (eds) In the Aftermath of Gezi: From Social Movement to Social Change London: Palgrave.

S.A. Sofos & U. Özkirimli (2016) ‘Protest Politics in Turkey’ in Simin Fadaee (ed) Understanding social movements in the Global South. London: Routledge.

S.A. Sofos (2014) ‘Rallying for Gezi, or Metaphors of Aporia and Empowerment’ in U. Özkirimli (ed) The Making of a Protest Movement in Turkey: #occupygezi, Basingstoke: Palgrave Pivot.

Σπύρος Σοφός (1994) ‘Λαϊκή ταυτότητα και πολιτική κουλτούρα στη μεταδικτατορική Ελλάδα: προς μια πολιτισμική προσέγγιση του λαϊκιστικού φαινομένου’ in Νίκος Δεμερτζης (ed) Eλληνική πολιτική κουλτούρα σήμερα, Athens: Οδυσσέας