The Politics of the Welfare State in Turkey

How Social Movements and Elite Competition Created a Welfare State
Erdem Yörük
A New Political Theory of Welfare in the Global South


In The Politics of the Welfare State in Turkey, author Erdem Yörük provides a politics-based explanation for the post-1980 transformation of the Turkish welfare system, in which poor relief policies have replaced employment-based social security. This book is one of the results of Yörük’s European Research Council-funded project, which compares the political dynamics in several emerging markets in order to develop a new political theory of welfare in the global south. As such, this book is an ambitious analytical and empirical contribution to understanding the causes of a sweeping shift in the nature of state welfare provision in Turkey during the recent decades—part of a global trend that extends far beyond Turkey. Most scholarship about Turkey and similar countries has explained this shift toward poor relief as a response to demographic and structural changes including aging populations, the decline in the economic weight of industry, and the informalization of labor, while ignoring the effect of grassroots politics. In order to overcome these theoretical shortages in the literature, the book revisits concepts of political containment and political mobilization from the earlier literature on the mid-twentieth-century welfare state development and incorporates the effects of grassroots politics in order to understand the recent welfare system shift as it materialized in Turkey, where a new matrix of political dynamics has produced new large-scale social assistance programs. 

Erdem Yörük is Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at Koç University and Associate Member in the Department of Social Policy and Intervention at the University of Oxford.

Praise / Awards

  • “This is an excellent book that presents a new, refreshing perspective to understand a political-governmental dynamic that has lately been at the center of discussions regarding the AKP rule in Turkey. With firm historical grounding and careful, sound data analysis, Yörük displays the roots and the actual component of clientelistic policies that are attributed to the AKP government. It is a welcome and much needed addition to the scholarship on modern Turkey, as well as the more general scholarship on welfare system transformations and grassroots politics.”
    – Elif Babül, Mount Holyoke College
  • “This book provides an up-to-date account of Turkish social policy and its politics of interest not only to area specialists but to a wider literature on developing welfare states in emerging market economies. It will be recognized more widely in development studies, comparative politics, and social and public policy communities.”
    – Bernhard Ebbinghaus, University of Oxford

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 238pp.
  • 25 charts, 9 tables.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2022
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-13304-8

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  • $75.00 U.S.

  • Paper
  • 2022
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-03902-9

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  • $29.95 U.S.

  • Open Access
  • 2022
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-90282-8

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  • Turkey; Turkish; welfare state; welfare policy; social policy; social assistance; social movements; protest; contentious politics; electoral competition; party politics; Kurdish conflict; working class; proletarianization; Justice and Development Party; informalization; urbanization; internal displacement; Kurd; Recep Tayyip Erdogan; Turgut Özal; Süleyman Demirel; ethnic conflict; counter-insurgency