‘Names will never hurt us’: A qualitative exploration of çapulcu identity through the eyes of Gezi Park protesters

Özden Melis Uluğ, Yasemin Gülsüm Acar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


While there is a wealth of literature on how and why people engage in collective action, there has been comparably less focus on the way identities that have emerged (as compared to how they are consolidated or politicized) through crowd action are understood and explained by those who carry those identities, as well as the particular importance of norm formation and adherence in this process. The Gezi Park protests in Turkey allowed studying exactly how a newly created identity – çapulcu identity [Turkish for looters] – can be perceived by the protesters. The present study utilizes a qualitative approach to explore how the çapulcu identity was understood by people who participated in the Gezi Park protests, as well as the norms and prototypes associated with that identity. More specifically, we investigated perceptions of (1) the defining characteristics of a new identity (i.e., meaning of çapulcu), (2) prototypicality (i.e., typical çapulcu), (3) expectations of çapulcu behaviour in terms of social norms, and (4) out-group definitions (i.e., differentiating a çapulcu from a non-çapulcu). We used a survey with open-ended questions to explore çapulcu identity and analysed the data from 196 participants using qualitative content analysis. Results highlighted the important defining characteristics of çapulcu identity, how this identity is positioned in relation to the newly created out-group (i.e., government supporters), and social norms based on this newly created identity. We discuss the meanings of identity characteristics and social norms in the political context of Turkey in relation to existing collective action models, as well as why we need to examine identities that come about during protests qualitatively.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)714-729
Number of pages16
JournalBritish Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019


  • çapulcu
  • Gezi protests
  • prototypicality
  • social identity
  • social norms
  • Turkey


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