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Qualitative Sociology

, Volume 40, Issue 2, pp 139–164 | Cite as

A Midsummer Night’s Coup: Performance and Power in Turkey’s July 15 Coup Attempt

  • Ateş Altınordu
Article

Abstract

Occurring at a time when military interventions appeared to be a matter of the past, the coup attempt of July 15, 2016 left a major mark on Turkish society and politics. This article approaches the July 15 coup attempt as a contingent and transformative event and investigates how symbolic processes helped determine its immediate outcome as well as its cultural, social, and political consequences. Linking the sociological literature on events with social performance theory, the study argues that the putschists’ ineffectiveness in projecting legitimacy and power in the critical hours of the coup attempt significantly contributed to its failure. The retrospective construction of an authoritative “Narrative of July 15” in the following weeks, on the other hand, enabled the government to implement specific institutional changes in the cultural, economic, and political domains. The study proposes a two-step analysis for the cultural construction of political events and suggests that social performance theory provides useful analytical tools for tracing the course and explaining the outcome of this process.

Keywords

July 15 Military coups Social performance Events Turkey 

Notes

Acknowledgements

Earlier versions of this article were presented at the Center for Cultural Sociology at Yale University and in the Cultural Studies Speaker Series at Sabancı University. The author would like to thank the participants in these workshops, the anonymous reviewers, and David Smilde for their helpful comments and suggestions.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Arts and Social SciencesSabancı UniversityIstanbulTurkey

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