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Charismatic Leaders and Nation Building

Abstract : Can leaders shape the evolution of social norms? I address this question by studying the role of Mustafa Kemal, or "Ataturk", the founder of modern Turkey, in spreading a new national identity. Using a generalized difference-in-differences design, which exploits time and geographic variation in Kemal’s visits to cities, I test whether exposure to a charismatic leader affects citizens’ take-up of the new national identity. I show that cities visited are more likely to embrace the common identity, as proxied by the adoption of first names in "Pure Turkish", the new language introduced by the state. I investigate the mechanisms and find that Kemal was more efficient in spreading a new identity compared to Ismet Inonu his second man, suggesting that he did not only have a pure informational effect. Using detailed information on the types of activities he held, I find that the effect is mostly driven by cities where he met with local elites, as opposed to visits where he met with the crowd. Results are not driven by places that already had nationalistic preferences and infrastructures. Overall, those results are consistent with the Weberian view that charismatic authority can play a role in legitimizing new social orders.
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https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-02873520
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Submitted on : Thursday, June 18, 2020 - 12:38:12 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, September 24, 2020 - 3:35:00 AM

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  • HAL Id : halshs-02873520, version 1

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Lydia Assouad. Charismatic Leaders and Nation Building. 2020. ⟨halshs-02873520v1⟩

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