Turkey, Islam, and the EU

Contrary to the “clash of civilizations” thesis, social scientists have found that Islam and democracy are not inherently in conflict. Controversy over Turkey’s application to the European Union highlights how concerns over cultural difference impact EU policy decisions. Despite claims to the contrary, Turkey is more similar to Europe than many assume.

Listen to the podcast

We interviewed Jeffrey Dixon for the Contexts Podcast. The episode isn’t up yet, but subscribe now anyway so you’ll get it right when it comes out!

Get the data

We asked Jeffrey for some resources to help people learn more about religion, democracy and human rights. Turns out, you can find the exact data Jeffrey used in this article, along with other data on human rights, democracy and religion on the following websites:

Teaching Ideas

Teaching a course on religion and human rights? Jeffrey Dixon passes along these helpful teaching ideas:

First, students do a research paper:

In my introductory sociology class, I ask students to do some preliminary historical and contemporary research on a country of their choice, from among the choices I give them (which does not include the US, but does include a number of predominantly Muslim countries [many of which are former colonies: see this map] as well as a number of former colonial powers). I asked them to identify basic historical and contemporary information, such as its history of colonization (if any), the level of inequality and poverty within the country today and how it compares to other countries, its contemporary economic position in the world today, its predominant religion, its level of democratic development, and its extent of gender inequality (largely using the resources noted above). I then ask them how the evidence relates to theoretical explanations of global inequality we cover.

A good starting point is the CIA World Factbook. Note, however, that some of this information may be dated and/or in need of a check/verification against other data—e.g., from the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), US Population Reference Bureau, or some other source.

Dixon follows this up with an activity:

I do an activity in which the students play the part of their country in order to decide what—if anything—should be done to redress global inequality and poverty in the context of the UN Millennium Goals

Learn more about the EU

Check out europa.eu, especially the Basic Information page. This can provide you with a very brief and informative understanding of this very complex institution. Also check out this map of member and candidate states: PDF (6MB).

About Turkey

Dixon offers some more resources on Turkey:

Want to visit Turkey? Dixon says: “Check out this picture of our former apartment in Istanbul below and then decide!”