Examination of Symbolic Power during Turkey’s Early Republican Period from Bourdieu’s Perspective: A Case of Postage StampsSezer Ahmet Kına
Production of common sense assumptions is indispensable for political transformations’ social acceptance. Varied contemporary communication tools and systems have been significant throughout history for production of symbols that shape such transformations. This study is based on the assumption that postage stamps were designed and circulated to introduce Turkey’s Early Republican Period administrative, political, ideological, and economic transformations to its society and the world. Here, representations of stamps’ symbolic power are analyzed through this perspective. Because such representations provide the opportunity to read, through symbols, both the period’s social history and its conflict over political and economic power, the study is framed by Pierre Bourdieu’s understanding of symbolic power. Accordingly, through content analysis, the sample has been triplethematic classified, and symbolic power’s functioning has been critiqued on the following representations of: (i) the nation as an arranged structure, (ii) the founding leader who embodies sensations and insights required by symbolic power, and (iii) national development and construction of the central state. Thus, the stamps’ representations are argued to be informational for both national and international communities. Therefore, these representations are considered prominent as both descriptive missions and commanding functions.
Erken Cumhuriyet Döneminde Simgesel İktidara Bourdieu üzerinden Bakmak: Posta Pulları ÖrneğiSezer Ahmet Kına
Siyasal dönüşümlerin, toplumsal bir boyut kazanabilmesi için ortak duyu varsayımları üretimi kaçınılmazdır. Bu dönüşümlere yön veren sembollerin üretimi için dönemin teknik olanaklarının sunduğu iletişim araçlarının ve haberleşme sistemlerinin kullanımı tarih boyunca önem taşımıştır. Bu çalışmada posta pullarının Erken Cumhuriyet Döneminde yaşanan yönetimsel, politik, ideolojik ve iktisadi dönüşümlerin topluma ve dünyaya tanıtılması, ayrıca toplumsal karşılığının da olabilmesi amacıyla tasarlandığı ve tedavüle sokulduğu kabulünden yola çıkılmış ve pulların içerdiği simgesel iktidar temsillerine odaklanılmıştır. Temsiller dönemin sosyal tarihi ile siyasal ve iktisadi iktidar mücadelesini semboller üzerinden okuma imkânı verdiğinden çalışma, Pierre Bourdieu’nün simgesel iktidar kavrayışıyla çerçevelenmiştir. Bu doğrultuda yapılan içerik çözümlemesiyle örneklem üzerinden üçlü tematik ayrıma gidilmiş ve simgesel iktidarın işleyişine (i) yapılanmış bir yapı olarak ulusa dair temsiller, (ii) simgesel iktidarın gerektirdiği duyu ve kavrayışın cisimleştiği kurucu liderin temsilleri ve (iii) milli kalkınma hamlesi ve merkezi devlet inşasına dair temsiller üzerinden bakılmıştır. Sonuç olarak Erken Cumhuriyet Döneminde yaşanan tarihsel ve toplumsal olaylara ve benimsenen değerlere dair pullardaki temsillerin ulusal ve uluslararası toplumun bilgisine ve kabulüne yönelik olarak sunulduğu tartışılmıştır. Dolayısıyla söz konusu temsillerin hem betimleme misyonlarıyla hem de buyurma işlevleriyle öne çıktığı değerlendirilmiştir.
One aim of the state’s administration, which controls its citizens’ attitudes by regulating economic, political, cultural, and ideological structures, is to ensure that citizens have a common memory, cultural perception, sense of belonging, and historical imagination. Production of common sense assumptions is indispensable for social acceptance of political and ideological transformations conducted by principal founding powers in state administration. Within this historical phenomenon, founding cadres also used contemporary communication tools and systems to spread to the social base visions of the state, society, and the individual that they had adopted.
Until digitalization spread toward the end of the twentieth century, the post has been a basic tool of public communication in Turkey. Moreover, stamps, used since the reign of Sultan Abdülaziz, have been a crucial tool in the post’s symbolic production. As a material with financial value, stamps, used by both institutions and citizens, with illustrations of conjunctural or historical thematic references, have also played an essential role in conferring certain messages to all the state and society’s components through the motivation for their adoption.
Stamps’ situation during the Early Republican Period —when radical paradigmatic innovations were experienced, and some ruptures and continuities were witnessed in this context— presented meanings that would inspire political and social history studies and even become the object of such studies. This study is based on the assumption that postage stamps were designed and circulated to introduce the Early Republican Period’s administrative, political, ideological, and economic transformations to both Turkish society and the world. Thus, stamps’ symbolic representations of power have been focused from this perspective. While the study was being designed, stamps of the founding period —known in the literature as the Early Republican Period, which began with the proclamation of the Republic and ended with Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s death and in which radical reforms were implemented— were determined as the study’s scope. In addition, stamps printed and/or used by the Grand National Assembly’s government during the national liberation struggle, which began in 1919 and prepared for the foundation period, was also included in analysis. Therefore, the entire study sample included the stamps’ representations of symbols of power in circulation from 1920-1938.
Since these representations provide the opportunity to read the time’s historical conflicts for political and economic power through symbols, this study relies on Pierre Bourdieu’s understanding of symbolic power. Developing his understanding of symbolic power over Max Weber’s definitions of charisma and legitimacy and underlining that power’s use therefore requires legitimacy, Bourdieu frames the state as defining principles of physical and symbolic violence with its physical and symbolic power over public order. Therefore, he sees public order not only as a monopoly on physical violence in the Weberian sense but also emphasizes consent and argues that the state monopolizes use of symbolic force.
Indeed, Bourdieu focuses on some symbolic representations while revealing power monopolies’ logical functioning. Arguing that time was built with mental structures, he posits that one of these representations appears as memory. For this reason, this defense, which parallels Bourdieu’s views underlining that nothing is a given in the social and political sphere, offers a significant framework for examining the Early Republican Period’s symbolic power. Because this framework provides the opportunity to examine relations among surrounding actors who have unequal distribution of power, it also reminds us of the relationship’s constructive possibilities, for example, domination, absolutization, and nihilation.
The founding cadre’s reforms implemented during the Early Republican Period reveal the necessity of symbolic power. As this study’s object, stamps also have meaning that represents strife within the context. Strengthening and realizing the claim of such representations may become possible by preparing citizenry for the situation. Accordingly, through content analysis, the sample has been triple classified thematically, and symbolic power’s functioning has been critiqued on the following representations of: (i) the nation as an arranged structure, (ii) the founding leader who embodies sensations and insights required by symbolic power, and (iii) national development and construction of the central state. As a result, representations on the sample’s stamps are argued as being informational for both the national and international communities. Therefore, these representations are considered prominent both as descriptive missions and commanding functions.