Imams and Businessmen: Islamist Service Provision in Turkey
50 Pages Posted: 17 Nov 2020
Date Written: October 12, 2020
Islamists have a reputation for winning over citizen support through service delivery. This reflects a worldwide trend in the use of service provision by non-state actors to gain political support. Existing works attribute the notable local-level variation in such provision to strategic choice or low state capacity. Focusing on the Gulen Movement, the largest Islamist group in contemporary Turkey, we find no evidence that state weakness increases Islamist service provision. Rather we show that service allocation is highly dependent on a group’s ability to marshal local resources, specifically through the associational mobilization of local business elites. For our inferences, we exploit spatial variation in Islamist service delivery across Turkey’s 970 districts and use data on the Erdo˘gan government’s purge of thousands of non-state education institutions and bureaucrats, along with original data on business associations, endowments, public service infrastructure, and early Republican associations.
Keywords: imam, islam, turkey, businessmen, service delivery, support, politic, Gulen, resource, spatial variation, data
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