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Exclusionary Regimes, Autocratization and Democracy

Erdem Yörük

Erdem Yörük is the Director of the Center for Computational Social Sciences at Koç University. He is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at Koç University and an Associate Member in the Department of Social Policy and Intervention at the University of Oxford. He serves as the principal investigator of the ERC-funded project “Emerging Welfare” (The New Politics of Welfare: Towards an “Emerging Markets” Welfare State Regime) (, the H2020 project Social Comquant ( and most recently the ERC-funded Politus Project. These projects have focused on computational social science methods to understand social behavior and social policy. He holds a Ph.D. from the Department of Sociology at Johns Hopkins University (2012). His work focuses on social welfare and social policy, social movements, political sociology, and computational social sciences. His work has been supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), Ford Foundation, FP7 Marie Curie CIG, European Research Council, H2020, and the Science Academy of Turkey. His projects have created two datasets on welfare ( and protest movements ( His articles have appeared in World Development, Governance, Politics & Society, Journal of European Social Policy, New Left Review, Current Sociology, South Atlantic Quarterly, American Behavioral Scientist, International Journal of Communication, Social Policy and Administration, and Social Indicators Research, among others. His book, The Politics of the Welfare State in Turkey was published by the University of Michigan Press in May 2022.

Most recent relevant publications

As the convenor of your hub, how do you perceive the general topic in relation to your hub?

Research incubation theme 2, “Exclusionary Regimes and Autocratization,” directly relates to the overarching theme of “Democracy and Development” by examining the breakdown of democratic principles and how this affects development. This theme investigates the rise of regimes that, while often democratically elected, govern in an autocratic and exclusionary manner, which can lead to unequal development and resource distribution—a critical issue at the heart of the broader research initiative. Hence, I expect to delve into the intricate dynamics of how exclusionary regimes impact economic and political development. My role will involve orchestrating interdisciplinary research that sheds light on the multifaceted aspects of autocratization, with the goal of informing actionable strategies for strengthening democratic practices. The evolving political landscapes will require being adaptable, ensuring that the research remains pertinent and grounded in the shifting realities. Ultimately, our work will hopefully enhance both the academic discourse and practical approaches to nurturing democracy in the Global South.

As the convenor of your hub, how do you relate to other hubs?

Our hub connects to other themes by providing a lens to understand the consequences when states fail to democratize development, as per theme 1, or when populist movements and ideologies, explored in theme 4, pave the way for majoritarian rule. The dynamics of exclusionary regimes offer insights into the kinds of political mobilization that might undermine democratic institutions, relevant to theme 3’s focus on new forms of political organization. Furthermore, by identifying the factors that contribute to autocratization, this theme complements the applied research on rebuilding democracy in post-conflict contexts by highlighting potential pitfalls to avoid during the reconstruction of democratic institutions. In short, theme 2 is pivotal for comprehending how deviations from democratic governance can lead to development challenges and for guiding the research direction of the other hubs towards fostering resilient, inclusive democracies.