The Uniformization of Think Tanks in Turkey: The Foundation for Political, Economic, and Social Research (SETA) a a Case Study

Gurpinar B., AYDIN Ö.

SAGE OPEN, vol.12, no.1, 2022 (SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 12 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1177/21582440221086660
  • Journal Name: SAGE OPEN
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, ERIC (Education Resources Information Center), Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Keywords: think tanks, Turkey, civil society, SETA, Justice and Development Party (AK Party)
  • Istanbul University Affiliated: Yes


The present study analyzed the role of Turkey's think tanks as NGOs and conducted a case study on the Foundation for Political, Economic, and Social Research (SETA), an organization that appears to dominate Turkish think thanks' sphere of activity. Based on the general classifications accepted in the literature on think tanks, the study found that SETA is a "political party affiliation" and "advocacy" think tank. Since its establishment, SETA has been ideologically aligned with the Justice and Development Party (AK Party). It acts as a partner in the design of AK Party policies, provides human resources to the AK Party bureaucracy, and conducts public diplomacy to legitimize these policies in the public eye. According to the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program's (TTCSP) data for 2019, 48 think tanks exist in Turkey. The fact that SETA stands out so significantly from its peers suggests that pluralism has been lost in this field and that a monopolization policy is preferred. This study concluded that if a country's NGOs are weak, this will lead to a democratic deficit. Utilizing Carl Schmitt's theory of "the total state," the study analyzed the way in which the post-2016 state-of-emergency regime and the new political regime that emerged following Turkey's constitutional amendments in 2017 have narrowed the sphere of influence of think tanks and NGOs in Turkey.