Civil society, referendums and the media in Turkey: A comparative analysis of the representation of the referendum rallies relating the constitutional amendment in 1982 and the constitutional amendment package in 2010

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DAĞTAŞ E., Adiyaman F.

Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences, vol.4, no.9, pp.780-786, 2013 (Scopus) identifier


Civil society generally defines a sphere where groups of people can act without being forced by any source of power. The citizen is one of the most important dynamics of the civil society in that they form a source of power against the state by demanding their rights in the public realm. Citizenship, which is the verbalism of political belonging to the state, is not limited to a legal status in which the individual has a series of specific rights and duties. It is also an expression of the individual's articulation to society and the relationship that they build in the political-social sphere. The media, which should be a democratic institution by essence, is closely related to the civil society. In this day and age most of the political struggle takes place on media. Therefore, the political power always uses the media as an ideological tool. Referendums, on the other hand, are an important constituent in pluralistic democracy. Referendums reflect the political preferences of social groups equally, although in a relative sense. Thus, all different groups can influence the government mechanisms in line with their demands and needs. The role that the media undertakes during the time of referendum, a democratic right for all citizens, is very significant because it is via the media that the information related to the laws or amendments which are put to vote. That is why the analysis and interpretation of media texts that undertake a crucial role in times of referendum is very important. In this context, making a comparative analysis of the selected Turkish media (Cumhuriyet, Hürriyet, Tercüman/Bugün) coverage of 1982 constitutional referendum rallies and 2012 constitutional amendment package referendum rallies, and interpreting them within the framework of civil society discussions makes up the problem of this study. Determining the attitude of Turkish press and whether they had a political bias in 1982 constitutional referendum rallies and 2012 constitutional amendment package referendum rallies forms the purpose of the study. In the study content analysis method has been used. Quantitative distribution and rates of the newspapers' front-page news content and photographs relating with 1982 constitutional referendum and 2012 constitutional amendment package referendum rallies have been determined and compared/contrasted. Besides, the data gathered from the aforementioned newspapers' attitude towards the referendum rallies and thematic analyses of discourses in news texts have been compared/contrasted. One month before 7th October 1982 constitutional referendum and 12th September 2010 constitutional amendment package referendum marks the time limit of the study. Another limitation is regarding the newspapers chosen to represent the Turkish press. Based on their ideological attitudes; Cumhuriyet is chosen to represent national left (Kemalist, statist, secular), Hürriyet to represent liberal and Tercüman/Bugün to represent nationalistic conservative ideology.