Reforms of the Tanzimat Period in the Ottoman Empire: Construction of the New? or Continuation of Tradition?

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Koçak B., Bektaş M.

7th International New York Conference on Evolving Trends in Interdisciplinary Research & Practices, New York, United States Of America, 01 October 2022, pp.711

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Summary Text
  • City: New York
  • Country: United States Of America
  • Page Numbers: pp.711
  • Recep Tayyip Erdoğan University Affiliated: Yes


Along with the Tanzimat Period, many changes and transformations were made in the traditional social
structure of the Ottoman Empire. This transformation is not a spontaneous process, but a reform movement
initiated by the state, which is made necessary by the regression against the West. The Tanzimat reforms not
only changed the military, administrative and financial fields, but also created changes in the traditional
structure and mentality of the Ottoman society and revealed new forms of perception. Although some rights
were given to the Ottoman subjects by legal regulations, this situation was not effective in changing their
social life. Some of these attempts helped to solve some of the problems of the empire; however, some of
them, even most of them, were met with public reaction and were not accepted. The main reason for this is
that the reforms are prepared with a top-down logic and imposed on the society. While the Ottoman Empire
tried to keep up with the innovations required by the new world conditions, it also tried to preserve its
traditional structure. In other words, a conservative reform system was preferred. This contradiction, which
is tried to be carried out at the same time, has made it difficult to adopt modern institutions and structures.
Conservative parties think that the reform demands were an attack on the moral values of the society and
believed the traditional structure should continue. With the Tanzimat, the necessity of change was accepted
as undisputed, while the changes that could be contrary to traditional norms were limited by the central
authority. Therefore, Ottoman reforms can be characterized as traditional/conservative. The state has
preferred a conservative modernization and a relative innovation by preserving its traditional structure. For
a society that has religious behavior patterns that have permeated all areas of society, it is not easy to liquidate
these behavior patterns and values for the sake of modernization. The Ottoman reform movement can be
called as a limited modernization movement, which is under the control of the state in many respects. The
aim of this study is to reveal the traditional aspect of the reforms carried out in the Ottoman Empire.