CIVICUS Civil Society Index

An international action-research project by and for civil society

Civil Society in Turkey: At a Turning Point

Posted by civilsocietyindex on March 28, 2011

The CIVICUS Civil Society Index (CSI) is pleased to announce the publication of the 2010 Analytical Country Report from Turkey. The project was made possible by the collaborative efforts of CIVICUS and Third Sector Foundation of Turkey (TUSEV).

A close look at the research findings shows civil society’s growing impact, expanding areas of activity and impressive initiatives to address some of Turkey’s most pressing social and political concerns. When compared to two decades ago, civil society’s arena and its organisations’ development have reached impressive heights.

In this context, the previous CSI study (2006) pictured civil society in a conceptual and operational era of transition. Although research findings then showed more weaknesses than strengths, they also pointed towards some opportunities and potential for civil society actors to tackle the country’s democratisation and development goals.

The current CSI study (2010) continues to show civil society in Turkey in an era of transition with more weaknesses than strengths. Although some of the opportunities that were pointed out in the first study have been addressed, the acceleration of civil society’s transition has decreased. The persistence of some major weaknesses is worrisome and points towards future obstacles. As such, the CSI study portrays civil society in Turkey facing a major turning point: it will either build on its strengths to deepen its role as an indispensable actor in social and political life in Turkey; or it will enter a period of stagnation that is bound by its persistent weaknesses.

A comparative look at civil society’s strengths and weaknesses over time shows that there have been improvements in some areas while others have failed to progress. For instance, the socio-political and socio-economic environments, along with relations with the private sector, continue to offer strengths for civil society in Turkey. The increase in volunteering and membership rates in terms of participation, access to technology and support infrastructures, and a tendency not to associate civil society with negative values all show signs of improvement. However, the deep but narrow trends of participation, the minimal funding base of most CSOs and the significant regional differences within Turkey are all areas with need further attention.

To read the full report, click here

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