Cihan Tugal works on the role of religion in political projects. His research so far has focused on how the interaction between religion and politics shapes everyday life, urban space, class relations, and national identity. His book Passive Revolution: Absorbing the Islamic Challenge to Capitalism was published in 2009 by Stanford University Press. His research was also published in Economy and Society, Theory and Society, Sociological Theory, the New Left Review, Development and Change, the Sociological Quarterly, and edited volumes. The common thread of these chapters, articles, and the book is bringing in a cultural perspective to politics.
Tugal's book, as well as a couple of his articles, is based on a two-phase ethnography of a poor and conservative district in Istanbul. He has taught in this district, and participated in its religious and political life. Situating the ethnography within the development of capitalism in Turkey, he demonstrates how Islamic movements have mobilized the poor and marginal intellectuals to later integrate them to secular, market-oriented politics. This is a process of passive revolution, whereby previously oppositional networks are absorbed into existing power structures.
Tugal also studies Islamic mobilization in Egypt and Iran, in order to understand why similar movements have not resulted in a comparable Islamic market consensus in these countries. He argues that Islamic politics has interacted with civil society and the state in different ways in these three cases, leading to the victory of neoliberalized Islam in Turkey, its defeat in Iran, and a stalemate in Egypt. The revolutionary situation in Egypt presents new possibilities for neoliberal Islam, as well as new impediments to its popularization, as pointed out in his recent article in Development and Change.
Tugal has also written extensively in Turkish.
Published Articles and Chapters
2012 “Serbest Meslek Sahibi”: Neoliberal Subjectivity among Istanbul’s Popular Sectors, New Perspectives on Turkey 46: 65-93.
2012 "Fight or Acquiesce? Religion and Political Process in Turkey's and Egypt's Neoliberalizations" Development and Change 43(1): 23–51.
2012 "Intermittent revolution: the road to a hybrid socialism," Socio-Economic Review 10/2: 382-386