Women’s Rights and Gender Equality in Turkey| Gender in Turkey’s Islamic-Oriented Self-Help Literature: Constructing Self-Regulating Female Subjectivity

Feyda Sayan-Cengiz


Contemporary Turkey witnesses various ways in which the neoliberal understandings of subjectivity interpenetrate surging neoconservative discourses on gender. This study looks into the constructions of gender difference and female subjectivity in Turkey’s Islamic-oriented self-help literature, which has gained remarkable popularity in the past 2 decades. Relying on a discourse analysis of 5 books published in Turkish between 2010 and 2018, the study suggests that this literature combines references to Islamic sources, globally circulating concepts of Western secular self-help culture, and New Age spirituality. In doing that, Islamic-oriented self-help literature articulates neoconservative discourses on gender difference and female subjectivity with neoliberal conceptions of self-monitoring individuals. Gender difference is posited as a natural, God-given disposition (fıtrat) that individuals need to find within their “core, authentic selves” to attain individual happiness. Accordingly, “healthy” female subjectivity is only possible within the contours of family and motherhood, and women are advised to monitor themselves to make sure they act according to their fıtrat.


self-help culture, neoconservatism, politics of gender, gender difference, Turkey

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