The discourse of ust akil: A search for hegemony in the Turkish media


SOUTHEAST EUROPEAN AND BLACK SEA STUDIES, vol.21, no.1, pp.77-99, 2021 (SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 21 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/14683857.2021.1872233
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, IBZ Online, International Bibliography of Social Sciences, Historical Abstracts, Humanities Abstracts, Index Islamicus, Political Science Complete, Public Affairs Index, Sociological abstracts, Worldwide Political Science Abstracts
  • Page Numbers: pp.77-99
  • Keywords: conspiracy theory, Discourse, hegemony, politics, populism, turkey, turkish media
  • Yıldız Technical University Affiliated: Yes


The concept of ust akil, an all-powerful and sinister agency, has recently been socially and politically influential in the public sphere in Turkey. From the time it was first used in 2014 to today, the concept has served as an enabling device to legitimize a political motive, to delegitimize dissident views, to make an assertion of difference, to safeguard political status and to gain mainstream recognition. In this article, I examine specific conspiracy narratives in Turkey, which are by-products of the ust akil discourse, and attempt to understand how they, in their own ways, contribute to the formation of a conspiratorial climate and a hegemonic consensus in Turkish mainstream media. Journalists and popular authors creatively allude to ust akil in a wide range of styles. Analysing the discourse of ust akil, I demonstrate how the concept has been strategically used by many circles, pro-government and sometimes critical, to endorse a new nationalistic agenda intensified by the 2016 coup attempt in Turkey.