Master of Arts (MA)
Faculty of Arts
The purpose of this study is to explore Turkey’s experience with corporatism from the founding of the Republic in 1923 onwards. In this study, corporatism is defined as a particular political structure within the capitalist system which acts as a linkage mechanism between the state and society. It is basically related to labour and capital organizations, and their relationship to the state.
The analysis of the Turkish case remains loyal to the traditional authoritarian/liberal corporatism classification. It is asked whether Turkey exhibits the characteristics of authoritarian corporatism or liberal corporatism, or both? Was there a transition from one type to the other? It is shown that the Turkish case came very close to the authoritarian type of corporatism during the latter half of the 1940s, and especially the 1950s. Centralized political control was established over labour, and the labour unions were coerced by the government to cooperate in the implementation of governmental policies.
After the 1960 military takeover, a democratic system was firmly established, and a wide set of democratic rights and freedoms were recognized. Freedom of unions and the right to strike and bargain collectively were put under constitutional guarantee. A new model of planned capitalist development was adopted. Within the new political and economic framework a transition from authoritarian corporatism to the liberal type corporatism occurred. Organized labour was induced to cooperate with the government and employers in restraining wage increases and preventing work stoppages in return for institutionalized participation in the making of economic policies. This took place within the framework of democratic rights and freedoms.
Towards the end of the 1960s these corporatist arrangements came under attack from the rank and file and the newly-established radical labour confederation, DISK. During the 1970s, in the face of increasing discontent of the workers with the corporatist arrangements, the major labour confederation, Turk-Is, avoided corporatist deals. In the latter half of the 1970s, the system of industrial relations became increasingly conflictual. Both the employers’ associations and labour unions more often resorted to militant tactics. The economy also entered into a severe crisis. Under such conditions, the government sought the cooperation of organized labour in restraining wage increases and controlling strike activity. Consequently, a corporatist agreement was signed between the government and Turk-Is. But it did not last long. By the end of the 1970s labour militancy reached its peak.
This situation was brought to an abrupt end by the 1980s military takeover. An authoritarian corporatist structure was imposed on labour. This was very similar to the bureaucratic-authoritarian regimes of Latin America.
This study suggests that the main varieties of corporatism may emerge in a single country and there may be shifts from one type to the other. It also shows that liberal corporatism is not confined to the advanced capitalist democratic societies of Europe. The political and organizational conditions for the emergence of liberal corporatism may also exist in an developing country like that of Turkey.
Onder, Nilgun, "Turkey's experience with corporatism" (1990). Theses and Dissertations (Comprehensive). Paper 62.