Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Deborah Tolman

Committee Members

Michelle Fine

Jason VanOra

Subject Categories

Social Psychology


Liberation, Turkey, Liberation of Women, Critical Construct Validity, Multimethod Design


Feminist, sexuality and social psychology researchers studying women’s liberation in Turkey have solely focused on freedoms denied, outlining freedoms from gendered political, institutional and intimate constraints such as domestic violence, without much attention to freedoms desired, such as freedom to dream. Following Fromm’s (1941) conceptualization of freedom as freedom from restrictions placed on one and freedom to do what one wants to do authentically, my work engages in the critical construct validity (Fine & Torre, 2019) of the liberation of Turkish women, troubling, questioning and critiquing the assumptions typically made about the construct and offering an alternative way of studying liberation: through radical imagination, dreaming and desire. Considering the power of dreaming in imagining a revolution, envisioning just worlds, and remaining hopeful, I follow a transnational liberation psychology framework (Greene, 1988; Martin-Baro, 1994; Kelley 2002; Mohanty, 2003; Kandiyoti, 2010) and ask how life aspirations, stories, dreaming of freedom and the role of specifically located women’s psyches in these processes may inform our understanding of liberation. I conducted three studies using a multimethod design including a national survey of women’s dreams in Turkey, semi-structured interviews with 14 highly diverse women and a Listening Guide Analysis (Brown & Gilligan, 1991) of two women’s narratives. My analysis revealed women’s life aspirations as freedom from educational segregation and economic precarity nationally, freedom from circuits of dispossessions that strip them away from their freedom to occupy public space, express fluidity in sexual identities, and communicate the heterogeneity of desires across intersectional experiences. My analysis uncovered the political, economic, psychic, social and sexual layers of the construct of liberation and how freedoms denied and freedoms desired are intimately tied with each other. Diving into the psyche of two women’s experiences and focusing on the sexual dimension of the construct further illuminated the convoluted relationship between the two constructs: how sexual empowerment may get in the way of liberation, how freedom to can turn out to be freedom from upon closer examination. Critically evaluating liberation by focusing on specifically located women’s dreams has provided important insights into the inner workings of the construct and has offered liberatory pathways in pursuit of intimate, social and political justice for the women of Turkey.

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