2020 - TurkuazLab Strategies and Tools for Mitigating Polarization in Turkey
In March 2020, Istanbul Bilgi University Center for Migration Research (BILGI-Migration) and the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) have launched the Strategies and Tools for Mitigating Polarization in Turkey Project (TurkuazLab) through financial support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).
Polarization in Turkey is eroding the platform for a pluralistic democracy and paving the way for populist and majoritarian politics. Today, Turkish citizens increasingly live in echo-chambers where their view is amplified, and the opposite view is non-existent. Citizens then become affected by a spiral of silence as they refrain from discussing sensitive issues in environments where there are people with the opposite view. While the Turkish society is deeply divided along partisan lines, they share negative attitudes towards the West which are negative islands of agreement in an ocean of polarization. These are the findings of a recent survey titled Dimensions of Polarization in Turkey, conducted by BILGI-Migration through a grant made by GMF’s Black Sea Trust for Regional Cooperation.
The TurkuazLab Project/The Strategies and Tools for Mitigating Polarization in Turkey Project aims to raise awareness in Turkish society about polarization and the harm it is doing and to equip Turkish civil society, academia, media, and political parties with strategies and tools for mitigating polarization to contribute to a new ecosystem in Turkey with the prevalence of human rights, social harmony and respect to others.
With this 2-year project, we aim to reach these goals through the following actions:
The project website will be a comprehensive resource center on polarization and its presence in Turkey as well as a platform for disseminating the project’s outputs.
Elite Survey and Working Group Meeting
An elite survey and a follow up workshop conducted with international experts on polarization will be instrumental to creating a deeper understanding of polarization in general and its presence in Turkey in addition to developing strategies to mitigate it.
Survey on Polarization in Turkey
The survey, conducted with 4,000 respondents representing Turkey’s adult population, will aim to develop a clearer picture of polarization in Turkey and raise awareness about the issue.
Summary of research findings is accessible here:
Online Intervention Tool
A gamified online tool will be developed to give its users an opportunity to assess their own polarizing attitude and language and create a virtual environment in which they can be exposed to their “political other” to bridge perceived similarities.
Understanding Polarization Online Training (available in Turkish) http://turkuazlabsaha.org/class/kutuplasmayi-anlamak
Ten provincial workshops around the country attended by local civil society activists, journalists, academics, provincial political party organizations, and other local actors will be organized to raise awareness on polarization (making use of the survey), discuss strategies to overcome polarization, and encourage local actors to take action to promote the strategies and tools to mitigate it in their own networks.
A book on strategies for mitigating polarization considering the outcomes of the international workshop, the survey, and the provincial workshops will be compiled. The book will be published in Turkish and distributed among civil society organizations, political parties, universities, and the media. It will also be made available on the project website in different formats.
A closing conference with selected participants of the provincial workshops as well as political party representatives, journalists, academics, and civic activists will be organized to share findings of the project and discuss future steps.
For further details and project outputs of TurkuazLab: