Journal of Historical Political Economy > Vol 3 > Issue 4

Beyond the Classroom? Primary Schools and Rural Civic Participation

Asli Cansunar, Department of Political Science, University of Washington, USA, , Nela Mrchkovska, Department of Management, Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria,
Suggested Citation
Asli Cansunar and Nela Mrchkovska (2024), "Beyond the Classroom? Primary Schools and Rural Civic Participation", Journal of Historical Political Economy: Vol. 3: No. 4, pp 501-525.

Publication Date: 26 Feb 2024
© 2024 A. Cansunar and N. Mrchkovska
Bureaucracy,  Comparative political economy,  Comparative politics,  Political history
Primary educationstate-buildingpetitionsTurkeycivic participation


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In this article:
Estimation Strategy 
Discussion and Conclusion 


Can primary schools aid new states in establishing legitimacy among rural populations? Extensive literature on state-building has demonstrated that primary schools in rural communities play a pivotal role in enhancing state capacity and legitimacy. In addition to educating children, teachers, as knowledgeable state representatives, offer assistance and guidance to local villagers in accessing state tools. We utilize an original dataset from early Republican-era Turkey (1927–1935), which contains information on petitions and primary schools, to examine whether establishing rural schools strengthens the relationship between the state and rural populations. Using a differences-in-differences design, we demonstrate that establishing primary schools does not increase civic engagement with the state, as evidenced by the likelihood of villagers submitting petitions to the national assembly. We argue that in environments characterized by limited development and inhabited by populations facing language barriers and state bias against them, teachers struggle to `build' states.



Journal of Historical Political Economy, Volume 3, Issue 4 Special Issue: The Political Economy of the Interwar Period
See the other articles that are part of this special issue.