The Politics of Energy in Turkey: Running Engines on Geopolitical, Discursive, and Coercive Power

Begüm Özkaynak, Ethemcan Turhan, Cem İskender Aydın

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

    4 Citations (Scopus)


    This chapter discusses the politics of energy in post-1980 Turkey from a social science perspective. In particular, it offers an explanation of the decisions characterizing Turkey’s high-carbon energy pathway over the years, by building on some conceptual lenses: geopolitical interstate relations, sociopolitical and sociotechnical imaginaries, production of socioeconomic inequalities, and formation of new political collective identities. A thorough reading of the energy politics literature in Turkey suggests that all these dimensions are helpful to understanding not only the country’s past energy choices but also contemporary energy debates and conflicts under the “new Turkey.” Three points come to the fore in Turkey’s relationship with energy from the 1980s onward. (1) Turkey has pursued high modernist ambitions to be a regional energy hub and provide uninterrupted supply for its economic growth goals. (2) Energy choices and policies were formed politically as governments in coalition with domestic and foreign private capital have primarily promoted particular private interests and instrumentalized a technocratic discourse to establish political hegemony and marginalize public criticism. (3) Energy-related decisions have been insulated from public participation, resulting in intense sociospatial and socioeconomic inequalities and conflicts. A historical and interdisciplinary perspective also helps to explain how different energy resources generate power symbolically as well as materially and reproduce hegemony through concepts such as energy scarcity, security of supply, and energy independence. The chapter concludes with a critical assessment of the challenges Turkey faces for a transition to fair and environmentally sustainable energy systems.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Turkish Politics
    EditorsGüneş Murat Tezcür
    PublisherOxford University Press
    ISBN (Electronic)9780190064891
    Publication statusPublished - 10-Nov-2020


    • Turkey
    • politics of energy
    • nuclear
    • hydropower
    • coal
    • energy conflict
    • energy transition

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