A dominant idea in the literature is that civil society development tends to decrease with statism and be higher in liberal democracies. Our study argues that statist institutions do not necessarily crowd out civic associations and may even foster civil society development. To develop and test our argument, we use the case of the People's Houses, one of the major social projects of early Republican Turkey modeled after its counterparts of the era. We find that the local existence of the People's Houses has a detectable effect on present-day associational mobilization. First, drawing on qualitative evidence, we explain how the People's Houses' organizational structure contributed to developing vibrant associational infrastructure and organizational skills. We then use an original dataset that draws on archival data on the People's Houses' locations as well as an original web-scraped dataset on the present-day civic associations located across 970 districts, showing a robust and positive relationship between the People's Houses and the number of present-day local associations.
Journal of Historical Political Economy, Volume 1, Issue 4 Special Issue - Historical Persistence, Part I: Articles Overview
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