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Ideas as Building Blocks of a Path: Islamic Challenge to the pro-Western Turkish Foreign Policy, 1996-1997
Unformatted Document Text:  Paper prepared for 6 6 t h M P S A N a t i o n a l C o n f e r e n c e A p r i l 3 - 6 , 2 0 0 8 C h i c a g o , I L , U S A “Ideas as Building Blocks of a Path: Islamic Challenge to the pro-Western Turkish Foreign Policy, 1996-1997” † Dr. Zeki SARIGIL Department of Public Administration Mugla University ## email not listed ## Abstract: The idea of path dependence is a popular yet highly questioned notion in institutionalist literature. This study shows that one limitation of this approach is its materialist bias. Since prevailing models of path dependence are based on materialist dynamics and factors (e.g. increasing returns, cost-benefit calculus), this approach neglects political continuities constituted by ‘ideas’ and ‘values’. In order to illustrate ideational path dependence as a distinct type of political continuity, this study analyzes pro-Islamic Refah’s attempt to shift the pro-Western Turkish foreign policy towards the Islamic world in the mid-1990s. It is argued that the materialist version of path dependence is unable to explain this path shaping attempt because Refah’s failed effort was an endogenously driven ideational challenge to the existing pro-Western ideational path. It is concluded that there is a strong need for new paths (i.e. ideational) in the path dependence literature. Keywords: ideational path dependence; ideational stickiness; Turkish foreign policy; pro-Islamic challenge. † For very helpful comments on earlier drafts of this work, many thanks to Robert Olson, Sara Olds, Eren Deniz Tol Göktürk, and Cenap Çakmak. 1

Authors: Sarigil, Zeki.
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Paper prepared for
6 6
t h
M P S A N a t i o n a l C o n f e r e n c e
A p r i l 3 - 6 , 2 0 0 8 C h i c a g o , I L , U S A
“Ideas as Building Blocks of a Path: Islamic Challenge to the pro-Western
Turkish Foreign Policy, 1996-1997”
Dr. Zeki SARIGIL
Department of Public Administration
Mugla University
Abstract: The idea of path dependence is a popular yet highly questioned notion in institutionalist
literature. This study shows that one limitation of this approach is its materialist bias. Since prevailing
models of path dependence are based on materialist dynamics and factors (e.g. increasing returns, cost-
benefit calculus), this approach neglects political continuities constituted by ‘ideas’ and ‘values’. In order
to illustrate ideational path dependence as a distinct type of political continuity, this study analyzes pro-
Islamic Refah’s attempt to shift the pro-Western Turkish foreign policy towards the Islamic world in the
mid-1990s. It is argued that the materialist version of path dependence is unable to explain this path
shaping attempt because Refah’s failed effort was an endogenously driven ideational challenge to the
existing pro-Western ideational path. It is concluded that there is a strong need for new paths (i.e.
ideational) in the path dependence literature.

Keywords: ideational path dependence; ideational stickiness; Turkish foreign policy; pro-Islamic
challenge.


For very helpful comments on earlier drafts of this work, many thanks to Robert Olson, Sara Olds, Eren
Deniz Tol Göktürk, and Cenap Çakmak.
1


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