Author(s): Fotini Christia, Tugba Bozcaga 

Status/Format: In Progress

Date: 2021

Publication Type: Journal Article

Imams and Businessmen: Gulenist Service Provision in Turkey



Islamists have a reputation for winning over citizens’ support through service delivery, reflecting a worldwide trend of non-state actors using service provision to gain political support. Existing research attributes the notable local-level variation in such provision to a strategic choice or low state capacity. Focusing on the Gulen Movement, the largest Islamist group in contemporary Turkey, we show that service allocation is also highly dependent on a group’s ability to marshal local resources, specifically through the associational mobilization of local business elites. In addition, we find no evidence that state weakness increases Islamist service provision. For our inferences, we leverage the spatial variation in Islamist service delivery across Turkey’s 970 districts. We use data on the purge of thousands of non-state education institutions and bureaucrats following the 2016 coup attempt, along with original data on business associations, endowments, public service infrastructure, and early Republican associations.