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Conducents for the performance of experimental activity: an investigation into the development of modern science in Republican Turkey

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posted on 06.03.2013, 15:10 by Peter G.E. Hopkins
The aim of this thesis is to study the Turkish scientific research community and, by means of a model concerning scientific performance, to estimate the extent to which the performance of Turkish research scientists over the past fifty years has been and still is affected by their ideological and socia-economic milieu. Turkey presents a very interesting case-study of a nation with Islamic roots which go back more than a thousand years and yet which has seen enforced westernization since the founding of the Republic in 1923. The systematic Republican policy to westernize many of the administrative and socio-cultural institutions included a vigorous attempt to develop western scientific institutions. What scientific establishments existed before the Republican era were few in number and were almost all concerned with teaching alone rather than with original research. Such establishments had been set up with the assistance of foreign instructors and adviserR. There was no 'indigenous' science as such since for centuries the Muslim Ottomans had been largely indifferent and even hostile to knowledge which was unrelated to the study and practice of Islam. Furthermore, because the Ottomans did not engage in artisan labour but left this to the ethnic minority groups, scant craft skills remained among the Turks when the minorities were expatriated, died or fled the country. Thus science in Turkey is almost entirely the result of importation. With the proclamation of the Republic, 'science' and 'scientific thinking' were made the legitimation for some of the reforms introduced by Mustafa Kemal (Atattirk) and his colleagues. Ideological support for science has remained strong since 1923. It has been backed up over the years by the establishment of a number of institutions, mainly universities, at which research can be done, and by the setting-up of a research council to promote scientific research. However, in spite of this&rong commitment to science by the Republic, there are indicators which suggest that Turkish scientists do not produce good quality research work inside Turkey. indicators will be considered in section I.5 below. These The question arises why this situation should obtain. Is a fifty year period of strong commitment to science not long enough for scientific institutions to become established? What factors are needed to ensure that research scientists produce original and high quality research? Which of these are missing or deficient in the Turkish case? Moreover, are these missing factors internal and less obvious, a result of influences such as negative attitudes arising out of religious belief and practice, or are they external and obvious, such as supplie s and equipment? This thesis sets out to examine these questions. At first, it attempts to identify what internal and external factors are prerequisite or conducive to the performance of scientific research in a university setting. It then takes the Turkish scientific research community which is found mainly in the (highly autonomous) universities and concentrates on a particular segment of it which appears to be less influenced by external factors than the others, the group of scientists engaged in basic scientific research. This provides opportunity to focus upon the influence of sociocultural factors, which are often only looked at in passing in favour of direct economic factors, while not ignoring the influence of direct and indirect economic factors. At the same time, this study does not look merely at the external and internal factors affecting Turkish scientists now but attempts to trace the historical development of the ideologies and institutions which may have constituted to the formation and present state of these factors.



  • Social Sciences


  • Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies


© Peter G.E. Hopkins

Publication date



Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of the Loughborough University of Technology July, 1981

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