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Final Report Summary - EUROCS (The europeanisation of the Organised Civil Society in Turkey. The case of the Youth organisations in the prospect of the European Integration.)

• Summary description of the project objectives
The project (www.actineurope.com) investigated the process of Europeanization of the Organised Civil Society in Turkey, by taking the organizations active in the Youth sector, as a key case study. The overall objective of the project was to shed new light regarding their positioning in a country that has since long negotiating its access to the EU. The project is based on a policy analysis of the Youth policies as well as the patterns that drive the political participation and civic engagement of youth activists in the Turkish context.
The combination of different qualitative and quantitative modalities of data collection and the reference to insights coming from different disciplines that are overall grounded in the European Studies area, but bring their own specific contribution into the field (such as political sociology, public policy analysis, international relations, social psychology) characterized the approach to policy analysis employed in this project. The final goal, and the results outcoming from this proposal were to identify a set of best practices to be converted into practical suggestions and policy recommendations for policy makers both at the supranational and at the national levels, in order to 1) improve the strategic planning of European Funding in Turkey 2) find out the best strategies to engage with Civil Society activists 3) unpack the best options and employ the best policy outputs in order to adapt the EU’s policy making to a peculiar political, social and cultural context such as the Turkish one.

• a description of the work performed since the beginning of the project,
The research has been conducted according to the established working plan described by the GANNT chart of Annex 1 of the EUROCS project and integrates research, training and dissemination. During the first year the EUROCS project has been focused on 1) The review of existing literature and research on the issues of civil society and citizenship in Turkey 2) the elaboration of a methodological framework to study different components of active citizenship in Turkey 3) the collation and analysis of policy documents 4) the implementation of semi structured interviews with NGOs activists.
During the second year the EUROCS project has been focused on 1) the completion of semi-structured interviews with NGOs activists; 2) the design and implementation of a survey targeting NGOs volunteers and policy officers; 3) the publication of a number of research outputs. Four peer reviewed articles, two special issues, two book chapters, a chapter on Turkey within a research monograph have been published or are currently in print. Two further research articles have been submitted for peer review and a proposal for a research monograph has been submitted to Routledge.

• a description of the main results achieved so far,
The shaping of active citizenship in Turkey is to be understood in regards to the inter-linkage of two dimensions. On the one side, we witness the intertwining of a pattern towards active citizenship that is enhanced by top-down dynamics where both external actors, such as the European Union, and internal actors, such as the national government, have been –to different degrees- interacting in order to promote active citizenship as a practice. It is important to underline, however, that even if -especially thanks to the Europeanisation process- the number of organizations and consequently of projects having a social dimension has significantly increased, this has not corresponded to an improvement in the participation of the civil society in public policy processes. On the other side, different experiences of mobilization –such as the one characterising the occupygezi protests - clearly signify the presence of a social, cultural and political capital that is ‘out there’, inherent to the Turkish civil society. These different experiences indicate the importance and complexity in studying active citizenship in Turkey while, in terms of research orientation, they simultaneously establish the need to further explore the different components of civic and political engagement and civic and political participation.
In a nutshell, preliminary results show that patterns of civic and political engagement are well established in the Turkish context and that active citizenship is a fluid concept to which different activists attach different meanings according to the context they are involved in. The effects of transnationalisation of everyday activities through the participation in key European projects is an important factor to enhance the recognition of core values such as social solidarity and equality. Processes of bottom up mobilization however are volatile and appear to gain importance only in key moments, when windows of opportunities to initiate processes of social change open up and put into question the legitimacy of the political system to act in matters of public concern.

• the expected final results and their potential impact and use (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far).
The final goal, and the results that arise from this project are to identify a set of evidence based policy recommendations for policy makers both at the supranational and national levels, in order to 1) improve the strategic planning of European Funding in Turkey; 2) find out the best strategies to engage with Civil Society activists; 3) unpack the best options and employ the best policy outputs in order to adapt the EU's policy making to a peculiar political, social and cultural context such as the Turkish one. In terms of deliverables, the policy recommendations are part of a peer reviewed article that has been submitted for publication to an international journal. Dr. Bee is also preparing a handbook, in English and translated into Turkish, geared towards policy makers, journalists, and NGOs, containing guidelines, useful information, tips and tricks on the opportunities and challenges for civil society.

Related information

Reported by

ISTANBUL BILGI UNIVERSITESI
Turkey
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