Original Research - Special Collection: Gender Justice and Health and Human Development

Right-wing populism in New Turkey: Leading to all new grounds for troll science in gender theory

Hande Eslen-Ziya
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 76, No 3 | a6005 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v76i3.6005 | © 2020 Hande Eslen-Ziya | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 24 March 2020 | Published: 16 September 2020

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Hande Eslen-Ziya, Institute of Media and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Stavanger, Stavanger, Norway

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After years of progress in terms of gender and sexual rights, since 2012 Europe is facing a so-called gender backlash – opposition directed to issues related to reproductive policies and abortion, violence against women, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer (LGBTIQ) rights and gay marriages, gender mainstreaming and sex education at schools as well as antidiscrimination policies. In this article, firstly, by taking the anti-gender developments as point of reference, I examine the emergence of anti-gender movement in Europe via the use of what I call troll science. Troll science is based on (distorted) scientific arguments moulded into populist discourse, creating an alternative narrative on the conceptions of gender equality. Similar to troll accounts posting provocative, superfluous and even off-topic messages on social media to start arguments and quarrels aiming to distract, troll science, I argue, creates an alternative narrative opposing the scientific facts and discourses (i.e. climate change, evolution, vaccination and gender theory). Later, I discuss the emerging conservative troll-scientific discourses and the gendered public normative order of Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi (AKP; Justice and Development Party) government, under the New Turkey. I previously argued that New Turkey and the society under the party’s rule perpetuated by a new set of standards create an alternative narrative on the conceptions of gender equality through troll-science narratives. I concluded by showing how such ideological discourses help create emotional echo chambers – enabling its fast distribution and acceptance by the ideologically conservative groups.

Contribution: This paper contributes to the Special Collection Gender Justice, Health and Human Development with the theory of troll-science it introduces to discuss the alternative and anti-gender scientific discourse that is dominating academia.


Gender theory; Troll-science; Pseudo-science; Emotional echo chambers; AKP; Populismtional echo chambers; AKP; Populism


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