While populism takes different forms in different countries, the success of populist parties and leaders comes from their ability to represent grievances. Current analyses emphasize the personality, background and rhetoric of populist leaders, but, often neglect the intermediary mechanisms that help populists not only address and represent but also generate “the people” from a diverse set of constituencies. By focusing on the authoritarian populist context of Turkey, this paper examines the role of pro- government and government-organized NGOs in helping the ruling Justice and Development Party connect with, represent, and shape the youth public in the aftermath of the uprisings across the wider Middle East. The paper argues that the making of authoritarian Turkey and the resilience of President Erdoğan should be traced as much to the mechanisms of consent-building as to the mechanisms of coercion.
Ayça Alemdaroğlu is a research assistant professor of sociology and the associate director of the Keyman Modern Turkish Studies Program at Northwestern University. She previously worked as a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Anthropology and a teaching fellow in the Thinking Matters Program at Stanford. Her research engages with a broad range of theoretical and ethnographic issues including youth culture and politics, gender and sexuality, constructions of space and place, nationalism, eugenics, and higher education. She has B.Sc. and M.A. in Political Science and Public Administration from the Middle East Technical University and Bilkent University, and Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Cambridge.