Bio: I am a PhD candidate in political theory at the University of Amsterdam. I received my BA in philosophy & economics from Bogazici University and my MA in philosophy & economics from the University of Bayreuth. My research interests lie primarily in methodological debates in political theory, legitimacy of political authority, and normative aspects of economic institutions. My secondary interests include moral philosophy, ideology, and epistemology.
Legitimacy, Power, and Depoliticization
My PhD project investigates the interrelationship among depoliticization, political power and normative conceptions of legitimacy. In most political discourses, certain aspects of social life are depoliticized in the sense that they are rendered incontestable for a variety of reasons. For instance, a particular institutional arrangement is put beyond the mechanisms of direct democratic control on the grounds that it is a matter of technical expertise. Following this, it is often contended that such areas of social life should not be immersed in political contestations. The phenomenon of depoliticization has drastic influence on how we understand power relations. To the extent that an individual accepts a depoliticizing discourse, its outcomes cease to be a product of power, at least from that particular individual’s perspective. As a result, our assessment of depoliticization becomes relevant to our thinking of what counts as the natural order of the things vis-à-vis the effects of a political order, a set of human-made institutions with several types of freedom-restraining powers, i.e. coercive and normative powers.
The implications of depoliticization are also crucial in the way we build normative theories of political legitimacy. Especially for realist legitimacy theorists, it is exceedingly important to distinguish genuine reasons to accept the justification of power holders from mere effects of power on human psychology, e.g. what individuals are made to believe via indoctrination. In a similar vein, depoliticization could contribute to a legitimacy deficit even if individuals exhibit positive attitudes towards the justification offered by authority figures. One way this could happen is when the concept of the political employed in such justifications is too narrow. If and when a particular normative narrative depoliticizes certain areas of social life where there is a solid potential for conflicts of interest or value-laden disputes, it does not seem plausible to hold that citizens' acceptance of such justifications suffıces to grant legitimacy to power holders. This is because state power would be exercised in depoliticized areas in unaccountable ways since citizens do not demand legitimation due to their incorrect belief that those areas of social life are beyond the political.