Populism and the Bourgeoisie: The Role of Intra-Elite Factionalism in the Growth of Populism in Turkey
by Toygar Sinan Baykan (Kırklareli University)
This paper seeks to examine the role of upper-class elements in the rise of contemporary populism by focusing on the socio-cultural divide and factionalism within the Turkish business class. Current scholarship on populism revolves around the discursive, strategic and stylistic-performative dimensions; but the revival of populism—and the reaction against it—in our age has its own political sociology based on various coalitions of distinct social forces with diverging economic and mobilisational capacities and resources. Classical and contemporary studies analysing the social bases of populism have overwhelmingly focused on the role of lower socio-economic segments. This paper, in contrast, deploys a historical and socio-cultural analysis to highlight the role of upper-classes in the rise of populism today, and argues that economic and socio-cultural factionalism within the bourgeoisie paves the way for the “underdog” bourgeois factions to support populist politics.