Cihan Tugal

Research Expertise and Interest

political sociology, social movements, religion, Islam and the Middle East, culture, poverty and class, social theory, ethnography

Research Description

Cihan Tuğal studies three interlocking dynamics: 1) capitalism’s generation and destruction of communities, livelihoods, and places; 2) the implosion of representative democracy and the rise of populisms; 3) the crisis of liberal ethics.

Tuğal’s most recent book, Caring for the Poor (2017, Routledge), examines the emergence, globalization, and decline of liberal ethics by focusing on charity, philanthropy, and welfare. The book builds on a Maussian analysis of the gift, as well as Polanyian, Marxian, Bourdieusian, and Foucaultian theorizations of charity. Tuğal has published offshoots of his larger project on welfare ethics in the American Journal of SociologyQualitative Sociology, and Rethinking Marxism. His ongoing work explores ethical, religious, and spiritual alternatives to the rationalization and individualization of care and wellbeing.

Three articles on the global uprisings of 2009-2013 provide a snapshot of Tuğal’s work on capitalism and politics (see his departmental webpage for these articles: “Elusive Revolt”, "Decline of the Monopoly of Legitimate Violence," and “Resistance Everywhere”). Marketization, uneven growth, increasing ineffectiveness of American hegemony, and decimation of middle classes have undermined the (liberal-conservative) mainstream and incited revolt. As Tuğal’s collaborative work with De Leon and Desai emphasizes, political creativity (or lack thereof) thoroughly shapes what kind of a route societies take in response to such turbulence. His earlier books unpacked similar processes in Turkey, Egypt, Iran, and Tunisia (Passive Revolution, Stanford University Press; and The Fall of the Turkish Model, Verso). Tuğal is currently doing research on populism in the United States and the Middle East. (For his comparative take on American and Middle Eastern politics, see his articles “Elusive Revolt” and "The Counter-Revolution’s Long March").

Tugal has also written extensively in Turkish. He is a full time faculty member at Sociology and is also affiliated with several research centers on campus, including the Center for Middle East Studies.

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