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The Gezi Park Movement Essay

3183 words - 13 pages

In late May 2013, what started as a peaceful civil protest in opposition to demolition of the Gezi Park, which is one of the last green spaces in Istanbul, to build a shopping centre, has evolved into a broader protest when police violently attacked the protestors. The excessive use of pepper spray, tear gas and rubber bullets, which caused serious injuries, encouraged more demonstrators into the Gezi Park. After the harsh crackdown by the riot police, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan defended the police action and denounced protesters as "terrorists" and “marginal”. In a short time, a peaceful environmental protest turned into a nation-wide social movement against the Islamist-rooted Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his autocratically governing style.
The Gezi Park movement became one of the most important sociopolitical issues of Turkey in recent years. According to the Amnesty International’s report (2013) almost 2.5 million people attended the protests held in 79 cities across Turkey. 5 people died in clashes with the police and more than 8,000 injured. The protests attracted both national and international attention due to an overwhelming impact.
Many scholars, especially sociologists and political scientists, have been interested in studying the protests (Bilgic and Kafkasli 2013; Nikos 2013; Ete and Tastan 2013; Gokay and Shain 2013; Gole 2013; Xypolia 2013; Tastan 2013). Soon after the demonstrations begin, scholars started to investigate this unexpected upheaval. Most of the studies focused on the profiles of the protestors and the reasons of its origin (Bilgic and Kafkasli 2013; Gole 2013; Ete and Tastan 2013). Some scholars tried to investigate the aim of the protests and what do the protests really mean for Turkey (Tastan 2013; Nikos 2013). The movement has also been compared to other social movements throughout history (Gokay and Shain 2013; Xypolia 2013).
There are also few surveys conducted by the research institutions, in which they explore the profiles of the protestors by age range, income, education level and their political views (KONDA 2013; MetroPoll 2013; GENAR 2013). These surveys often focused on the ideological and political motivations of the protestors.
Even though a lot has been said about the Gezi protest, social class analysis of those protesting has often been overlooked. The common assumption in literature is that the Gezi Park protestors consist of well-educated, middle-class youths; therefore, the movement considered as a middle class and upper-middle class movement. However, none of the studies provide a complete analysis of the class dimension of the Gezi protests. This study focuses solely on the class analysis of the Gezi Park protests and tries to answer the following questions: Was Gezi movement simply a middle-class/upper-middle class movement, like most of the scholars argue? What was the role of the subordinated classes in Gezi protests? And finally, what role did social class play in...

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