Skip to main content

Photo: “Spazieren in Wien“, by Michael Gubi, licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0, Hue modified from the original

Atalay, Zeynep. “The Mutual Constitution of Illiberal Civil Society and Neoauthoritarianism: Evidence from Turkey.” Current Sociology, September 2021.


Recent scholarship on state–civil society dynamics in neoauthoritarian contexts demonstrates that the space for civil society is rapidly shrinking worldwide. Faced with legal, administrative, and extralegal measures that restrict operations and resources, civil society actors are forced to choose between marginalization or co-optation. This article examines the ruling party–Islamic civil society symbiosis in Turkey and identifies mutual constitution as an alternative model of the state–civil society relationship in hybrid regimes. Defined as utilitarian reciprocity between the ruling authority and civil society actors where both parties expand and consolidate their respective domains, the mutually constitutive relationship between the AKP government and Islamic civil society actors has facilitated the consolidation of neoauthoritarianism. Drawing attention to the recent rise of conservative civil society actors worldwide, the article urges the civil society and neoauthoritarianism research program to shift its focus to non-state actors that endorse non-democratic socio-political agendas and function as co-constitutors of illiberal regimes.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.