A Theoretical Analysis of the Gezi Resistance: Implications for Political Communication of New Social Movements

 

On 28 May 2013 a peaceful demonstration by environmental activists who were protesting against the demolition of Gezi Park –one of the few green areas left at the heart of Istanbul- and construction of a shopping mall along with a mosque instead was suppressed by excessive and aggressive police intervention. In response to the police suppression, thousands of individuals in Istanbul gathered in Taksim and Kadıköy followed by other big city centers in Turkey, which subsequently evolved into a resistance movement throughout the country. Particularly the peak days of the uprisings generated so much interests both in domestic and international public opinions, it was even perceived as the biggest political resistance in the history of modern Turkey. Although the government side tried to portray the incidents as "demonstrations" to degrade its impact, the opposition side presented the incidents as "riots" to boost participation. This paper aims to look from three years back at the Gezi Resistance in terms of its nature and grass-roots mobilization of masses and where it stands from the perspective of the New Social Movements Theory. Comparisons are made with similar social movements in other countries and implications for political communication of such movements are discussed.