Political Science Seminar Series: Kerem Yıldırım (Koç University)

Sabancı University
Faculty of Arts and Social Science




Continuous Clientelism: Persuasion and Preference Change in Turkey


Kerem Yıldırım
(Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Koç University)


March 22, 2017, Wednesday

12:30  FASS 2034


Abstract: This study tries to untangle the interaction between policy preferences, generally understood as a programmatic component, and clientelistic iteration, i.e. discretionary provision of benefits in return for political gains. Different political linkage strategies do not have to be mutually exclusive. In fact, there can be “spillover” effects of clientelistic interactions in the long run. The study theorizes the policy areas where we should observe this effect. It provides an account in which convergence of perceptions and preferences occur due to increasing levels of predictability, trust, affinity, and mutual dependency between patrons and their clients in iterated clientelistic interactions. The study argues that parties which have extensive, long-term clientelistic linkages with voters will not only provide discretionary benefits to their clients in return for support during elections, but patrons will also try to persuade voters in specific policy areas. The study focuses on the Turkish case, and it combines representative survey data, several experiments, an original online survey with a fieldwork conducted in two Istanbul neighborhoods to show the effect of clientelistic continuity on attitudes and persuasion. Empirical findings indicate that the long-term effects of clientelism are particularly pronounced when the policy area is salient for the political party or if the party owns the policy issue. Furthermore, the qualitative research indicates that long-term clientelism is sensitive to poverty, urban precarity, and gentrification. While poverty facilitates continuity, external shocks such as gentrification are conducive to re-intensification and suspension of linkages. Empirical findings compare these alternative trajectories of clientelistic continuity and they provide evidence for the theorized framework.