The Politics of Religiously Motivated Welfare Provision
This historical-institutionalist study explores the mechanisms behind the increasing presence of religiously motivated civil society associations (RMAs) in the realm of welfare provision. The focus of the study is an in-depth analysis that compares the case of Turkey to four European countries: Britain, France, Germany, and Sweden. Through an analysis of these cases, the study demonstrates that neither the common sociology of religion argument that religion is returning to the public sphere nor the widespread claim of welfare retrenchment is sufficient to explain the increasing emphasis on RMAs in various countries. The leading argument of the dissertation presents different institutional histories as the main reason behind different degrees of change present in each respective realm of social policy. The two mechanisms that are focused to understand change are: (1) shifts in state-society relationships/transformations of welfare state structures; and (2) shifts in state-religion relationships/rearrangement of institutional structures between the state and various religious communities.
The comparison between Turkey and the four western European countries demonstrates that in countries with immature welfare states the rise of RMAs has more serious implications for social rights and democratic citizenship. In contrast to low level of change in France and Germany, and medium level of change in Britain and Sweden, Turkey is defined as a case of high level of change because both the state-society and state-religion relationships have undergone major transformations in the post-1980s. The presence of long-standing institutional arrangements in either the state-society or state-religion area is the main reason that Britain, France, Germany and Sweden have enjoyed relative stability by comparison.
The thesis, in addition to the historical-institutionalist analysis of the four European cases, includes a comprehensive study of the Turkish case. The historical analysis of the state-society and state-religion relations in Turkey since the early twentieth century shows that the specific secularization history of this country, coupled with the relatively immature characteristics of its welfare state, created a larger space for the rise of RMAs. The empirical research, on the aims, motivations and organizational structures of the RMAs and their connections to state, business and civil society networks, shed light on how social policy arena transforms with the increasing presence of these associations in the welfare mix.