Multiculturalism and Multi-Level Governance in Turkish Local Governments

Multiculturalism and Multi-Level Governance in Turkish Local Governments

Namık Kemal Öztürk, Ozge Hames
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 25
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5547-6.ch004
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The term multiculturalism is a new term that was introduced to the social sciences literature, describing the fact that people living within the same society may differ from one another in terms of such notions as ethnical origin, color, language, religion, culture, and denomination. Multiculturalism policies have probably had more of an opportunity for application in the local governments compared to the central executive units. The local governments, whose powers and responsibilities have increased in the ever-changing and ever-growing public government manners, have transformed into base platforms where these policies are easily applied. In this trend of progress, with the proliferation of participatory democracy and good governance principles, the concept of multi-level governance has become an issue, entirely matching up with the services and functions of the local governments. As part of the legislative regulations in parallel with the EU harmonization process, Turkey has attempted to put into practice the multi-level governance principle on the local governments.
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Individuals having different values and identities such as religion, language, ethnicity, color, culture and sect live almost in all states today. This situation is so widespread that there is nearly no state left having a completely homogeneous nation. As a result of colonialism, globalization, internal and external migrations which took place due to various motives, it became a necessity for people having different identities to live together. Countries gradually tended towards different implementations changing in time and developing along with democratic values to be able to manage their increasing multicultural structures and fulfill the needs of these people. In the sequel of the failure of policies based on assimilation of differences, the concept of multiculturality and multicultural politics in parallel to pluralism is included in the literature of social sciences in 20th century. While multiculturalism signifies the situation where people living together in a society differ from each other in terms of factors like ethnicity, color, language, religion, culture and sect, multicultural politics describes the situation where it is accepted as a state policy to enable all elements composing social structure in a country live together in an egalitarian and free environment without being regarded as minority or majority, without being deemed as marginals or others and where differences are regarded as social wealth of the country and supported.

Canada is the first country to implement multicultural policies. The thought that everybody comes from an ethnic origin, all cultures deserve respect and survival so they should be supported by state underlies these policies which were carried into effect in 1971. Multicultural policies which were manifested in Canada in relation to increased democratic participation and establishment of a social order where people with different characteristics would live equally and together set an example to other countries in the later years and they were adopted by many European countries along with USA and Australia. All of these states tried to implement multicultural policies by adhering to democratic values, providing equality of opportunity to all cultures and give them an opportunity to develop.

In 1990's the concept of Multi-Level Governance came into use as a new governance mechanism in order to actualize joint interests and enable the differences to be managed in peace and tranquility at phases of determination and implementation of multiculturalist policies. Multi-Level Governance aims to determine and distribute social and financial risks during policy-making processes, balance conflicting interest of parties and spread benefits throughout the system (Dede, 2011:4). Multi-Level Governance which is enabled to include all segments that would be affected by policies into the process not hierarchically but in mutual interaction and communication and open areas for everybody who receives the service to express themselves and make themselves to be heard by the administration has a great importance to establish a healthy relation between state and citizens with regard to all decisions and implementations related with multiculturalism.

Multi-Level Governance is not only important in terms of central government but also in terms of local governments. In this respect multiculturalist policies regarded as state policy and effectively utilize multi-level governance might be implemented by local government units along with and maybe even more commonly than central government units. Local governments whose powers and responsibilities showed an increase due to changing and improving public administration approach became basic platforms where these policies are implemented more easily. In this context local governments presented implementations which are more open to demands, needs and opinions of the communities within their boundaries. In conjunction with principles of participatory democracy and good governance becoming widespread, the concept of 'multi-level governance' came to the fore and as the phrase goes, completely coincided with services and functions of local governments.

In this study concepts of multiculturalism and multi-level governance in Turkey are explained in certain contexts and their applicability by local governments is exemplified. In this context this study is focused on activities of Metropolitan Municipality of Mardin province which is an important example of multilingualism and multi-religiousness with its attention grabbing implementations, Antalya Muratpaşa Municipality which is an important tourism center and thus exposed to intense internal and external migration and Istanbul-Zeytinburnu Municipality, which could be deemed as a small-scale model of Turkey with respect to composition of its residents.

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