University of Jyväskylä

Dissertation: 6.10.2017 M.A. (Educ.) Kari Vitikainen (Faculty of Education and Psychology, Education)

Start date: Oct 06, 2017 12:00 PM

End date: Oct 06, 2017 03:00 PM

Location: Seminaarinmäki, Old Festival Hall, S212

Picture: Ari Vitikainen
M.A. (Educ.) Kari Vitikainen defends his doctoral dissertation in Education ”Kunnon muslimi ja kunnon kansalainen, Turkkilaisten imaamisaarnaajalukioiden oppikirjojen ilmentämän maailmankatsomuksen analyysi”. Opponent Professor Leena Koski (University of Eastern Finland) and custos Professor Tapio Puolimatka (University of Jyväskylä). The doctoral dissertation is held in Finnish.


This qualitative study aims to analyse the worldview that emerges in the textbooks of Turkish imam and preacher high schools (imam hatip lisesi). The study material consists of eight textbooks that belong to the vocational religious education of Turkish imams. All of the textbooks were published around 2010. 

In this study, theoretical considerations regarding the essence of worldview (Weltanschauung) are summarized into an existential model of worldview (EKMA). The model provides two viewpoints from which to understand the worldview under study. The first viewpoint concentrates on understanding the worldview’s belief structure and the content of those beliefs. The second viewpoint examines language usage and various ways of being as crucial parts of the essence of the researched worldview (see van Deurzen 2004). The study suggests that by combining these two viewpoints in the spirit of dialogical pluralism, it is possible to acquire a more comprehensive understanding of the worldview. The method of analysis is discourse analysis based on ontological constructionism. The method is then applied within the interpretative framework of the existential model of worldview (EKMA). The study identifies and presents eight interpretative repertoires that can be divided into two broad types: those that construct a religious way of being and those that construct a republican-nationalistic way of being. The analysis indicates that idealistic representations of an ideal Islamic society, the global brotherhood of Muslims and the citizens of the Turkish republic as a unanimous and united nation face substantial challenges on the level of the social world. These challenges become apparent in the study material textbooks, but they are even more obvious when ideal interpretative repertoires are considered within the surrounding cultural context.

However, the interpretative repertoires that operate in the social realms of human existence construct diverse models of living as a good Muslim and a good citizen in the Republic of Turkey, in the modern world and as a member of a Muslim community. In the study material’s worldview, religious fanaticism and backwardness are judged. On the other hand, the republican-nationalistic discourse includes accounts full of pathos, which give the impression that the Republic of Turkey and the unity of the nation have been threatened. Although most of the interpretative repertoires encourage a tolerant way of being, the study material also includes discourses that build prejudices and hostile positions towards people who are related to as “others”. 

This study describes the content of textbooks used in the education of Turkish imams. These descriptions can provide a useful baseline for when the curriculum of the imam education is conceived of in a European context. However, the methodological viewpoint that examines language usage shows that the essence of the worldview being studied is much more multidimensional than just dogmatic beliefs and the jurisprudence of Islamic law. The study suggests that this multidimensional understanding about the essence and meaning of a worldview should be considered when the educational curriculum for imams is constructed for a European context.

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Kari Vitikainen
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